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Caregivers and Health Aides: Are They Liable for Negligence or Abuse?

Posted by Scot D. Goldberg | Oct 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

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With Florida's huge number of senior citizens, there is a very high percentage who require the care and assistance of a private in-home health care worker. While most people in that profession are skilled and caring professionals, there are a few who should not be allowed to care for an elderly patient. There have been many cases lately where a family member has installed a hidden camera in the home of an elderly patient, and the resulting horrific scenarios of physical and mental abuse are shocking.

There is a lot of confusion about exactly who can be held accountable in a situation like this. Does the company that employs the caregiver have a legal responsibility to prevent an individual from abusing a client? Most likely, the caregiver is technically not an ‘employee', but rather an independent contractor who simply uses the staffing services of an agency to find clients to work for.

In 2015, there were 161 suspected instances of elder abuse or neglect in Florida, but only 62 of those alleged offenders ended up being convicted of a crime. When it happens to a loved one, these types of offenses can be some of the most tragic and devastating life events you'll ever face. Victims are seriously hurt, confused and unaware of what type of recourse they may have.

If a home health aide is supposed to be caring for a patient in their home and that patient is wrongfully injured, liability falls squarely on the private duty aide. The negligent home health aide can be held accountable in a lawsuit against the aide, and possibly the responsible home health agency. This is considered a Florida home health aide negligence lawsuit.

There are some factors that determine if in fact the agency that ‘employed” the caregiver should face some form of responsibility for the abuse, or if the individual themselves are solely responsible:

  • The agency may not have ‘employees', utilizing their people as “independent contractors”
  • How much control the agency has over the staffer accused of abusing a client, including dictating their hours and days of the week they work
  • Did the agency receive financial compensation from the abused patient, or was the caregiver paid directly?
  • Did the agency provide complete and detailed instruction on specifically what to do and not do with a specific client?

There are a number of ways an in-home caregiver can inflict pain or injury on a patient in their care, both physically and emotionally. Cases involving a caregiver actually beating or hitting an elderly patient are all too common, especially with the new technology found in tiny, hidden video cameras. Horrible verbal and emotional abuse, like screaming at the patient, are also prevalent. Abuse and neglect also covers what the caregiver doesn't do for their patient, like simply ignoring their care and attention so that things go from bad to worse.

Abused elderly patients have suffered broken bones, cuts and bruises, debilitating bed sores, rashes, unsanitary hygiene issues and more. Abuse can also take the form of theft from the patient, like stealing checks out of their checkbook, cash from a purse or jewelry and other items of value.

Florida's Adult Protective Services Act (Ch. 415): Claims Against Home Health Aides & Agencies

Florida law recognizes special protections for ‘vulnerable adults' who are abused by their caretakers in the Adult Protective Services Act, (APSA). Nursing Home and ALF residents are specifically unable to bring this APSA Chapter 415 claim against negligent facilities; however, a private duty aide can be sued under Chapter 415 of the Florida Statutes. This is significant because if a party prevails under Chapter 415, the party may be awarded additional attorney's fees and costs.

The APSA statutes cover a wide variety of situations and circumstances in which a private caregiver may be found responsible for elder abuse or neglect. To read the entire state statutes, click here.

Goldberg Noone, LLC, Florida Home Health Aide Abuse Attorneys

Our law firm is experienced in defending the rights of elderly individuals who have been victimized by an abusive caregiver. Elderly victims have rights under Florida law, no matter whether they have anyone around to take care of them, like a family member. So many in our older population are dependent on outside agencies and caregivers just to get by day-to-day, and don't have the benefit of any nearby family or friends to ease their burden, or even check to see if they're ok.

We help people who have been taken advantage of, and who have suffered injuries at the hand of an irresponsible, careless or negligent caregiver or home health aide. Our legal team will investigate the facts of your case, and bring the full force of our experience and skill in obtaining justice for your loved one. We will consult with you at no cost to determine if we feel you may have a case for financial compensation for the abused victim, and fight for their legal rights all the way to a jury trial, if necessary.

Call our Downtown Fort Myers office at 239-461-5508, or just complete this simple form and one of our attorneys will contact you directly.

If you suspect that someone you care about is not receiving proper care or is being abused by an in-home health aide or caregiver, don't wait until it's too late. Take steps to monitor or even videotape what you feel is taking place, and reach out for help.

About the Author

Scot D. Goldberg

Local People. Local Practice. Local Knowledge. Scot Goldberg is a founding partner of the Goldberg Law Firm. See his attorney profile for more information.

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