Media stories about nursing home abuse around the country have become worryingly common in recent years, and this has prompted many people to consider using internet-connected cameras to covertly monitor their loved ones. Doing this may seem to be a harmless way to protect the elderly and provide peace of mind, but it could lead to legal problems in states with strict two-party consent laws. Florida is one of many states with such legislation on the books.
Two-party consent laws prohibit the recording of individuals without their permission. This is why companies announce that phone communications may be recorded before connecting callers with people who can help them. According to an article published in the Jacksonville Daily Record by a member of the Jacksonville Bar Association, Florida’s two-party consent law prohibits the taping of conversations, but covert video cameras are usually permitted as long as they are not capable of recording audio. Cameras are not permitted in places like changing rooms where the people being monitored would have an expectation of privacy, but this exception would not generally apply to a nursing home resident’s private quarters.
Placing cameras covertly in Florida that record audio as well as video is unwise for several reasons. Evidence of nursing home abuse that is gathered in violation of state law would not be admissible in court, and it could lead to a criminal charge or civil lawsuit. Asking the nursing home for permission to place a camera avoids this problem. If the request is denied, it could be an indication that caring for elderly residents is not something the facility takes as seriously as it should. Some states have modified their two-party consent laws to specifically exclude nursing homes, and New Jersey even offers monitoring equipment to families who are worried about their elderly relatives.
Holding negligent nursing homes responsible
If you have an elderly relative that lives in a nursing home or soon will, an experienced attorney may encourage you to ask the facility for permission to place a camera. If permission is not granted, an attorney could urge you to find and place a camera that is not capable of recording audio. This is because even silent video of elderly people being mistreated is extremely powerful evidence in abuse cases, and it could be enough to prompt a nursing home to settle a lawsuit quickly and discretely.