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Older adults rely on nursing home facilities to provide everything they need to live, including food, medical and personal hygiene care, shelter, and safety. When abuse or neglect occurs, abusers must be held accountable. The Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath team is here to demand accountability.

If your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home in Melbourne or surrounding areas, contact us to speak with a Melbourne personal injury lawyer who will fight for justice.

melbourne nursing home abuse attorney

Quality care isn’t a privilege, it’s a right and it’s the law

Florida, like many other states, recognizes the importance of protecting nursing home residents and has equipped them with a bill of rights documented in Florida Statutes chapter 400.022.

All nursing homes must inform residents of these rights and treat them accordingly. Under the law, residents have, among other rights, the right to:

  • Be treated with respect and dignity
  • Receive medical care
  • Live free of abuse or neglect
  • Engage in social activities or programs
  • Report grievances without experiencing retaliation
  • Private and uncensored communication, whether in person, via mail, telephone, or electronic means
  • Overnight visitation away from the facility, with the doctor’s approval
  • Access to legal, medical, social, or other services from practitioners of their choice and to stop these services
  • Immediate access to representatives as established in the statute, regardless of facility visiting hours

If you file a nursing home abuse claim, your attorney will investigate your loved one’s situation with great care. With extensive knowledge of nursing home residents’ rights and Florida’s personal injury laws, your attorney will build a case to prove the abuse and demand a just settlement.

What should I do if I suspect abuse at my loved one’s nursing home?

Following these important steps can help protect your loved one and stop abusers from hurting other residents.

  1. Make detailed notes of possible abuse – If you notice injuries, missing items, or odd behavior from a staff member, write it down.
  2. Gather evidence to support your suspicions – Evidence of abuse may include testimony from your loved one, what other residents or staffers have witnessed, photos of injuries, bank statements, or notes regarding changes in your loved one’s behavior or demeanor.
  3. Contact a nursing home ombudsman – Ombudsmen work to identify, investigate, and resolve complaints made by residents or on behalf of residents. If you suspect abuse, contact an ombudsman to start an investigation and advocate for your loved one’s safety. (Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program)
  4. Consult a Melbourne nursing home abuse lawyer – Abusers must be held accountable, and victims must receive justice. Contact a Melbourne nursing home abuse lawyer from our team to start working toward those goals.

How much does it cost to hire a nursing home abuse lawyer in Melbourne?

Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath works on a contingency basis for nursing home abuse cases. We do not accept payment until we have secured your loved one’s settlement. Even your initial consultation is free. A percentage of the settlement covers our fees.

How do I report nursing home abuse in Florida?

In Florida, anyone who suspects or witnesses incidents of nursing home abuse is mandated by law to report it. Reporters can file online or call the abuse hotline through the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Within one hour of receiving the report, hotline counselors send it to the county investigation office where the victim lives. If the victim is at immediate risk, the investigator will respond as soon as possible, and if there is no imminent risk, will respond within 24 hours.

A person who knowingly makes a false report can be charged with a felony. Those who report in good faith are not subject to liability.

Are there different types of nursing home abuse?

Unfortunately, there is no end to the ways vulnerable residents can be harmed, but most types of abuse fall into the following categories.

Physical abuse

Actions causing physical injury, including inappropriate use of restraint and improper administration of medication, are examples of physical abuse.

Emotional abuse

Victims who are belittled, intimidated, berated, or otherwise manipulated have been emotionally abused.

melbourne nursing home abuse lawyer


While other forms of abuse are intentional, nursing home abuse may not be. However, it still stands as abuse. For example, some residents are uncared for because of understaffing. Other times, staffers intentionally neglect a patient’s needs, failing to give them medication, food, opportunities to socialize, or allowing them to go without bathing or clean clothes.

Financial abuse

Stealing property or money from residents, using their credit cards, stealing or manipulating victims into disclosing personal information to set up accounts, or taking money from the resident’s accounts are examples of financial abuse.

Sexual abuse

Whether abusers perform unwanted sexual acts on residents, force residents to engage in sexual acts, or force them to watch sexually explicit material, they have committed sexual abuse.

What are some common signs and injuries to watch for?

Family and friends of residents should stay on high alert for signs which can include:

  • An unsanitary environment
  • Sudden or significant weight loss, malnutrition, or dehydration
  • Bruising around the wrists or ankles where restraints were used
  • Pressure sores
  • Injuries caused by a fall
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Mood or behavior changes
  • Fear of facility staff or tense interactions with staff
  • Being over or under medicated
  • Painful urination or injury to genital areas
  • Missing property
  • Unusual bank account changes

Adults with dementia are more at risk

Residents experiencing dementia have an elevated risk for abuse since they often cannot communicate clearly, remember exactly what happened, or have their allegations dismissed as symptoms of their diminished cognitive condition.

How long do I have to file a nursing home abuse claim?

Florida has a two-year statute of limitations, or legal deadline, from the abuse incident for filing nursing abuse claims. However, not all abuse is discovered immediately, so the statute allows for filing years from when the abuse was, or could reasonably have been, recognized.

Who can file a lawsuit against a nursing home in Melbourne?

Florida Statute 415.1111 establishes who can file a nursing home abuse lawsuit. Claimants include:

  • The abuse victim
  • The victim’s guardian – When residents cannot make personal or financial decisions, the state may appoint a legal guardian to assume these responsibilities.
  • Another person acting on behalf of the victim, typically a family member would need consent from the victim’s guardian to file.
  • The personal representative of the victim’s estate – If the abuse results in wrongful death, the estate representative can file. If there is no representative, the court will appoint one.

What damages can I claim?

Nursing home abuse claims fall under personal injury laws, and claimants may collect compensation for economic and non-economic damages and additional punitive damages. If your loved one dies from their abusive experience, you can seek wrongful death damages.

Economic damages

Any elements of the abuse that affected your loved one’s finances are economic damages. For example, medical expenses or stolen money or property. A settlement can cover these expenses or recover the losses.

Non-economic damages

The effects of the abuse on your loved one’s emotional and psychological well-being and quality of life are acknowledged through non-economic damages. Physical abuse can lead to limited mobility and worsened physical health. Sexual abuse leads to emotional distress, whether from pain, fear, or feelings of shame.

If your loved one was isolated and unable to interact socially or enjoy activities, they likely experienced diminished quality of life. Abuse of any sort can trigger psychological distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Punitive damages

Punitive damages punish the abuser and act as a deterrent, preventing the abuser from repeating the abuse or neglect and deterring others from engaging in such injurious behavior.

To collect punitive damages, Statute 400.0237 states claimants must provide “clear and convincing evidence” that the offender “actively and knowingly participated in intentional misconduct, or engaged in conduct that constitutes gross negligence and contributed to the loss, damages, or injury suffered by the claimant.

We’ll work to obtain maximum compensation for your loved one

Victims of nursing home abuse often feel stripped of their dignity and suffer physical and emotional consequences. Holding their abusers legally accountable can restore a sense of dignity along with compensation for their losses and provide a measure of justice. Our team of Melbourne nursing home abuse lawyers will work to get your loved one the highest settlement possible.

Who may be liable for my loved one’s abuse?

Abusers can have a variety of identities. There are many parties involved in the facility’s upkeep and care of residents. When your Melbourne nursing home abuse lawyers investigate your loved one’s case, they will expose all abusive parties.

  • Nurse or caregiver
  • Nursing home facility
  • Third-party device manufacturer
  • Third-party trespasser or contractor

How do you prove nursing home abuse in Melbourne?

Proving abuse or negligence and collecting a subsequent settlement requires evidence of four components of negligence.

  1. First, you must prove the defendant owed your loved one a “duty of care.” A duty of care is to support your loved one’s safety and avoid actions compromising their safety. The Florida Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights codifies this duty.
  2. Next, you must show that the facility breached or failed to uphold its duty of care. Your nursing home abuse lawyer in Melbourne will investigate the situation to discover evidence of the breach or breaches.
  3. Then, your attorney will have to prove the connection between the breach of duty and your loved one’s injuries, showing the facility’s breach caused those injuries. For example, a staffer’s over-medicating of your loved one led to medical consequences. Or consistent verbal abuse left your loved one anxious and depressed.
  4. Finally, you must prove your loved one’s injuries left them with quantifiable damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Melbourne will know how to value your loved one’s injuries, whether physical or financial injuries or non-tangible emotional injuries.

Our Melbourne nursing home abuse lawyers are ready to help

Pursuing claims of nursing home abuse can be an uphill battle, but fighting these battles is essential. We cannot allow those who abuse the most vulnerable among us to get away with their appalling, immoral, and illegal behavior. Your loved one deserves justice, and others in nursing home facilities deserve to be cared for and protected.

Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath will treat you and your loved one with compassion and respect while fighting fiercely to hold abusers accountable. Reach out for a free consultation from a Melbourne nursing home abuse lawyer who will fight for your loved one’s rights.

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