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Nursing home neglect lawsuit bill moving through FL legislature

Miami nursing home residents and their families may want to keep their eyes on a bill moving through Florida's legislative process. The proposed law, which recently passed the Senate Health and Policy Committee, would protect some nursing home investors from nursing home neglect and abuse lawsuits. Additionally, the bill seeks to give attorneys easier, more direct access to a nursing home neglect victim's medical records, which could make lawsuits, at least those that go forward, quicker. While some believe this bill could provide nursing home investors with greater protections which, by allowing them to remain in business, benefits nursing home residents, others are not so sure.

Some believe this proposed law would hinder those residing in nursing homes by reducing the number of lawsuits, thus prohibiting those who have been injured from holding negligent parties accountable. Though many claim "passive" investors have no direct role in the day-to-day operations of some nursing homes, advocates say these investors still assist in creating budgets that set staff levels and necessitate resources available to staff and patients, including food. Advocates also slam the bill because it may make it more difficult for victims to recover punitive damages.

Even if this bill becomes law, nursing home neglect victims will still have legal recourse against nursing home owners and their staff. By suing these individuals, a victim who is harmed by bedsores, a nursing home fall, rapid weight loss, or nursing home abuse may be able to recover compensation for his or her damages. These recoveries, if obtained, will provide accountability, closure and money needed to reach as full a recovery as possible.

The law is always evolving. For this reason, it is important those who have been harmed by a nursing home error speak with an experienced legal professional. He or she can sit with the victim and/or his or her family to clarify the process and discuss all legal options available.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Advocates say Senate nursing home bill benefits industry and trial lawyers - not patients," Mary Ellen Klas, Feb. 18, 2014

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