Nursing Home Abuse in Florida During Covid-19

Nursing home residents are undoubtedly the most vulnerable to covid-19, not to mention neglect and abuse, in this unprecedented time. Mortality rates are disproportionately higher in older people than younger people, and there have been devastating outbreaks of covid-19 that resulted in many deaths at nursing homes in Florida. From January 2020 up to July 2021, there have been 30,541 confirmed covid-19 cases and 4,891 deaths in Florida nursing homes.

Stricter Safety Precautions and Visitation Rules

Infections control, masks, and social distancing protocols are still enforced and remain a top priority. Some nursing homes have likewise restricted visitations. These include prohibiting indoor visits in facilities where a staff member or resident has tested positive for covid-19 and limiting visitation for unvaccinated residents who reside in facilities with 70% or lower vaccination rates in communities with high transmission levels.

All rules may not apply to compassionate care residents. For example, some facilities allow outdoor visits, regardless of the resident or visitor’s vaccination status.

How Nursing Home Visits are a Double-Edged Sword

In some cases, visitations could lead to early detection, and thus, a stop to nursing home abuse. In other cases, however, visitation restrictions make it more difficult to detect and address nursing home abuse. Unfortunately, Florida has passed immunity bills aimed at protecting nursing homes and similar facilities from claims related to covid-19.

Most of these bills offer broad protection to healthcare staff, which would make pursuing claims related to covid-19 more difficult. For example, plaintiffs should prove intentional misconduct or gross negligence, which is a much higher standard than professional malpractice or ordinary negligence.

Likewise, healthcare providers provided affirmative defenses that preclude liability. The defenses are mainly associated with the provider’s compliance with covid-19-related health protocols and the inability to fulfill applicable standards due to shortages of medical supplies, among others.

Additionally, potential plaintiffs will only be given one year to file claims related to covid-19 against the liable parties, which is a significantly shorter time than the time limit provided for medical and simple negligence claims. This is unfortunate because the state legislators should have taken a more personalized approach to such issues. It’s highly possible that many meritorious claims would be dismissed because of the immunity bills’ provisions, which seem biased and violate people’s rights to proper compensation.

Fortunately, these immunities won’t apply to intentional misconduct or gross negligence. This could enable loved ones to pursue legal action for extreme negligence and abuse cases. Claims could target negligent actions such as inadequate staffing, lack of equipment, very poor living conditions, and reckless staff, among others.

Get Help from a Skilled Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Florida Now

If you have reason to believe that a loved one was injured, abused, mistreated, or passed away because of abuse, neglect, or Covid-19, the law firm of Tragos, Sartes, & Tragos can help you navigate this extremely difficult and uncertain time. You can set up a free consultation of your case with our Florida nursing home abuse lawyer by completing our online form or calling us at 727-441-9093.