The fact that your loved one must enter into hospice care is difficult enough. However, the situation is made even worse when you believe that your family member is not receiving the care they deserve or may even be the victim of abuse. Many hospice facilities have not been inspected by authorities for years.
Unfortunately, hidden within many facilities is rife hospice abuse. One in 10 adults over the age of 65 suffers at least 1 form of abuse a year. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, 1.49 million Medicare beneficiaries received hospice care in 2017. This includes patients who died in hospice care and those who were discharged. Therefore, an estimated 149,000 Americans are abused in hospice care each year.
If your loved one has suffered an injury during their hospice stay, an experienced Tampa personal injury lawyer in your area will be able to fight for your rights to compensation.
One of the most common forms of abuse is emotional trauma. Caregivers are more likely to emotionally abuse a senior than family members or spouses. Patients with dementia are especially vulnerable. Some seniors are socially isolated and suffer from depression as a result. Hospice care should provide patients with opportunities to receive visitors and opportunities to socialize with other patients. Other forms of psychological abuse include threats, shaming, yelling, humiliation and manipulation tactics.
In some cases, caregivers may try to manipulate patients into giving them money. Some seniors do not report that they are being financially abused because they may fear retaliation. Other patients have handicaps that may prevent them from communicating that they are being abused. Because emotional and financial abuse will not leave marks, you must pay attention to any changes in mood or finances that could indicate that your loved one is being taken advantage of or mistreated.
Another common form of abuse is neglect. Patients in hospice care typically need more care than healthy adults and failure to care for a patient can have catastrophic consequences. Neglect is not when a caregiver makes a single mistake. Instead, neglect is a long-term series of patterns that lead to injuries.
One of the most common ways those in hospice are injured is due to falls. Another common way is not having their symptoms properly managed. Your loved one might be in pain but is not receiving the medication necessary to manage pain symptoms.
Some hospice care staff physically abuse seniors and can substantially shorten their lives. Seniors who are physically abused should be taken to the hospital and should not be placed back in the hands of the abusive hospice caregiver.
Hospice care providers are only supposed to accept patients when they are expected to only have 6 months to live. However, some providers wrongfully enroll patients and make changes to medical records so that they may obtain more government funding. Your loved one may fail to receive curative care that could have saved their life.
If your loved one passes away due to negligence carried out by hospice care, you may be entitled to benefits. In Florida, the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate is responsible for filing a wrongful death claim. If there is no will or estate plan, the representative will be appointed by the state. If you are a beneficiary of the estate, you will receive a portion of the settlement.
If you signed a contract with the hospice care provider, you may be able to sue for a breach of contract. In most cases, an attorney will work directly with the injured party on a personal injury case. However, a Florida elder abuse lawyer will file a claim on behalf of your loved one if they’re incapacitated. If your loved one has given you “power of attorney” privileges, you may file a lawsuit on their behalf.
To file a lawsuit in Florida, you must file a complaint. In Tampa, file the complaint at the Hillsborough County Clerk Office. The complaint must contain the factual and legal grounds for the case. You must also file a summons so that the defendant knows that he or she is being sued and will also specify which court will hear the case.
All defendants must receive relevant documents through a process known as “service of process.” In Florida, the sheriff appoints the process server.
While it is possible to sue the hospice care provider on your own, you should strongly consider hiring a Florida elder abuse lawyer. The hospice care provider may take any steps necessary to win the lawsuit including trying to hide or destroy records that could be used against them. An attorney will initiate a discovery process to gather the evidence necessary to prove that your loved one was the victim of negligence. They will also represent you in court.
Filing a lawsuit can be expensive and time-consuming. In many cases, with the help of a great attorney, you may settle the case out of court. Doing so allows you to avoid court fees and you will reach a settlement faster. An experienced attorney will also help you calculate how much your settlement will be worth so you can avoid low-ball offers that will not even begin to cover your expenses.