Nursing home elopements, on the rise in Florida – Here’s when you can sue

Daytona Beach, FL – When you take someone to a nursing home in Florida, you expect they’ll be well taken care of and supervised. Unfortunately, that is not the case. A recent study came up with some shocking figures – in recent years, almost 1,000 care home residents were able to leave the facilities without authorization or staff realizing they had wandered away. According to an investigative report by WUSF Public Media, there were at least 993 cases of “nursing home elopement” from facilities in Florida between 2017 and 2021. The patients were found many miles away, injured, confused, or frightened. In one case, an elderly dementia patient was found seven hours later more than five miles away from the facility, between a major interstate and expressway. 

If someone you love gets injured or killed after wandering away from a facility, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the nursing home. Most nursing homes across the nation are facing severe personnel shortages, but that’s not your problem. Your dear grandma or your father suffering from Alzheimer’s shouldn’t pay the price for their shortfalls. Failing to supervise patients under their care amounts to negligence so you can file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit and make them pay for what they did to your loved one and your whole family.

What are the federal regulations on nursing home patients’ safety?

According to the law, when a new resident enters a care facility, an evaluation of their general health, both physical and mental, is performed. The written report must include an assessment of their ability to function independently. 

For instance, frail elderly with mobility issues will require assistance with daily necessities. The same applies to mental capacity. If the new resident is unable to protect himself from harm or is mentally unable to appreciate his safety needs, he will be placed under close supervision. The report will determine what level of unsupervised access they should have to the outside. A sound of mind elderly can be allowed to take walks around the premises, but someone at risk of wandering should be supervised when they get some air. 

Here is how a nursing home should deal with patients who are at high risk of wandering and putting themselves in harm’s way:

  • Have sufficient staff to monitor high-risk residents
  • Move high-risk residents closer to the nurses’ station
  • Place alarms or bells on doors
  • Lock the doors for sections of the nursing home where high-risk wanders are housed
  • Add guards or use security cameras

What sort of damages can you recover in a nursing home elopement case?

If your loved one was injured after wandering away from a nursing home, you can sue the facility and claim economic damages covering all the medical expenses that their injury incurred. You can also sue for non-economic damages, which are meant to compensate them for their pain and suffering, both mental and physical.

In a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from an elopement case you can recover any medical expenses, the cost of the funeral and burial, as well as non-economic damages for the mental stress and emotional distress the whole story caused you. 

If someone you love was injured or killed after wandering away from their nursing home in the Daytona Beach area or anywhere else in Volusia County, schedule a free consultation with an experienced lawyer at Pappas & Russell PA, and let them help you with your claim.

Contact info

Pappas & Russell PA

213 Silver Beach Avenue

Daytona Beach, Florida 32118

Phone: (386) 254-2941

Source: Nearly 1,000 instances of Florida nursing home residents exiting without supervision

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