Neglect of an elder dependent is a crime in Florida – a very serious one if it results in severe injury or death. However, as detailed recently in an enterprise investigation by USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA, the odds of prosecution or even arrest for neglectful nursing home caregivers are slim. In fact, none of the nursing home deaths state regulators attributed to caregiver neglect resulted in arrest or prosecution. Further, at least one state attorney curiously cited the option of a Florida nursing home wrongful death lawsuit as being the more “suitable” remedy in these cases – even as neglectful caregivers accused of similar acts in other states with comparable criminal laws on the books routinely face felony charges.
As long-time West Palm Beach nursing home neglect attorneys helping survivors and family members pursue civil injury and wrongful death claims, the report isn’t especially shocking nor does it directly impact our cases. Lack of accountability, though, could mean residents in Florida nursing homes are at higher risk of neglect and abuse.
Journalists across the state scoured records of all 54 nursing home patient deaths from 2013 through 2017 that were red-flagged by the Florida Department of Children and Families as resulting from caregiver neglect, abuse or failed oversight. Not a single person was prosecuted in any of those deaths. Even when police recommended caregivers face felony charges like criminal neglect and manslaughter, prosecutors declined. Continue reading