Florida laws may prevent family members of the 14 South Florida nursing home residents who died in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma from receiving full compensation for the nursing home’s alleged negligence. At least 10 lawsuits have been filed against the South Florida nursing home for its alleged mishandling of the days following Hurricane Irma when the home lost power causing the temperature inside the facility to reach dangerous levels for the incapacitated residents living there.
Shortly after the tragedy, the nursing home lost its federal funding and operating license forcing it to lay off staff and close permanently. However, as the lawsuits move forward, families suing the nursing home have found that a 2014 law may restrict a plaintiff’s ability to claim punitive damages in negligence cases where a facility “actively and knowingly participated in intentional misconduct or gross negligence that contributed to the resident’s damages.” This legislation also protects some investors in a nursing home, which could significantly limit parties that may otherwise be potentially liable for a South Florida nursing home’s negligence.
Other complicating factors may create obstacles for families seeking justice, including the possibility that residents of the Florida nursing home may have signed an arbitration agreement prior to being admitted. Such an agreement may force litigants to enter into binding arbitration, which would effectively deny them from presenting these tragic incident to a jury.
Unfortunately, incidents of South Florida nursing home negligence occur far more than they should. We always hope that when we place a loved one in a nursing or assisted living facility that they will be given the care and dignity they deserve, but all too often they are not. If you or a loved one in need has been the victim of nursing home or assisted living facility negligence, you should immediately consult with a Fort Lauderdale nursing home / assisted living facility negligence attorney, with the skill and experience to hold these facilities accountable.