If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may be interested in a recent lawsuit case filed against a Florida nursing home. Filed in June of 2016, the nursing home lawsuit alleges financial exploitation totaling more than $2 million. As one of the most common forms of nursing home abuse, financial exploitation of the elderly is a serious problem, and a reasonable concern if you have loved ones in a nursing home.
Nursing Home Lawsuit Information
From 2009 to 2015, a retired concert pianist lived in a Miami-Dade nursing home after suffering serious injuries requiring rehabilitation. At the time he moved into the nursing home, he had a reported net worth of over $3 million. Not long after moving in, his health declined, and he became bedridden. Around that same time, his companion of over 30 years was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently died. This string of unfortunate events understandably led to a state of depression, vulnerability, and loss of rational decision-making.
According to the nursing home lawsuit, the man’s son claims that during this vulnerable period in his father’s life, staff at the nursing home were able to manipulate or coerce around $2.5 million worth of assets from his father. The son apparently realized his father’s loss of assets in 2015 and immediately filed for guardianship. The lawsuit claims that the nursing home did not properly screen staff members, which resulted in the theft. Attorneys for the plaintiff claim that the fraud and theft committed was a proximate and direct result of the nursing home’s failure to create a secure environment, as is its duty.
The nursing home lawsuit claims that nursing home staff members wrote checks to themselves or others using the resident’s checks, and would then force the resident to sign them. In some instances, it is further alleged that staff members forged the residents signature completely. While there are currently no criminal charges involved in the case, it has been reported to the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and an investigation is ongoing.
Financial Exploitation of Elderly Americans
The nursing home lawsuit discussed above is just one example of financial exploitation in nursing homes. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), financial exploitation of elderly Americans has increased dramatically over the past decade. Some of the most startling statistics include:
- Only one out of every 44 cases of financial abuse are reported.
- Cognitive impairments and requiring help with daily activities makes elderly Americans more vulnerable to financial abuse.
- It is estimated that one in nine elderly Americans report being neglected, abused, or exploited, while one in 20 elderly Americans report some form of financial mistreatment.
- 90 percent of elder abuse perpetrators are trusted caregivers, friends, or family members.
- Nearly one out of every ten victims of financial abuse will have to apply for Medicaid due to their own assets being stolen.
Not only is financial exploitation against the law, it is also incredibly damaging to the victim and his or her loved ones. NAPSA warns that financial exploitation can have many negative consequences, including:
- Financial destitution
- Inability to replace assets
- Financial inability to hire an attorney to pursue legal action
- Forced reliance on government interventions
- Loss of physical assets including home, vehicle, or property
- Loss of security in life
- Loss of trust in those close to them
- Emotional turmoil, fear, guilt, anger, worthlessness, or self-doubt
Because the devastating effects of financial exploitation are so complex, it is important to recognize the signs and get help immediately. Your loved one deserves to be secure in every way, including his or her physical, mental, and financial position.
Understanding Nursing Home Resident Rights
If you are concerned about the financial security of your elderly loved one, you should take this opportunity to explore the legal rights of nursing home residents, as well as the legal responsibilities of nursing homes. Financially speaking, nursing home residents have the right to:
- Manage his or her own finances
- Be informed of any and all available services, as well as the charges for each
- To have access to his or her financial accounts and records at all times (or within 24 hours depending on the record)
- To file a complaint with no fear of retaliation
The responsibilities of the nursing home include (but may not be limited to):
- Protect the finances of residents, including placing funds in an interest bearing account, or properly managing funds deposited to the facility for services provided
- Record and maintain separate financial records for each resident
- Provide the residents legal representative with quarterly financial statements
- Not charging residents a fee for any items or services provided by Medicaid or Medicare.
Get Help Protecting Your Loved One
If you suspect that your loved one is being exploited financially, you may be eager to explore your rights, including the possibility of filing a nursing home lawsuit in pursuit of financial recovery. The first steps in protecting your loved one and taking legal action include:
- Reporting your suspicions to nursing home management (unless you suspect management is responsible).
- Reporting your suspicions to your local Adult Protective Services (APS), Ombudsman, or Department of Aging and Disability Services.
- Contacting financial institutions to inform them that theft may be occurring.
- Contacting an attorney to learn more about the rights of your loved one, and explore possible legal actions.
We understand how difficult it is to realize that your loved one has been abused or exploited. Our nursing home abuse attorneys are dedicated to providing aggressive yet compassionate legal guidance during your difficult time. Contact our office to learn more, or to schedule a no-obligation case review. You can call us at the number on your screen, or fill out our online form to get started.