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Florida Legislature Considering Major Breaks for Negligent Nursing Homes

Florida’s lawmakers are considering a bill that would cap non-economic damages for negligence or abuse cases against nursing homes to $250,000.00. Currently, a jury is allowed to determine the amount of damages to be awarded for pain and suffering for injuries or wrongful death without being restricted by the government setting the maximum amount of reasonable compensation.

This means that, even if a jury finds that a nursing home neglected a resident to the point of causing his or her wrongful death, the nursing home’s worst day at trial would be $250,000.00.

Nursing home abuse and negligence cases are very expensive for a personal injury attorney to undertake. Florida law already requires an attorney to perform a good faith investigation prior to being able to file suit. If the investigation does not reveal that there is a solid basis for the claim, suit cannot be filed. This process is expensive and time consuming.

Once suit is filed, the expenses mount even further. Nursing home negligence cases are expert intensive – often requiring a plaintiff’s attorney to hire one or more nurses and several medical doctors. In our experience, the cost of a handling a nursing home negligence case through trial, not including any payment for attorney fees, ranges from $25,000.00 to $100,000.00.

Attorneys handling nursing home abuse or negligence cases typically handle them only on a contingency basis – meaning they only get paid if they are sucessful. In addition, they only get repaid their out-of-pocket costs if they are sucessful. By decreasing the potential recovery, it quickly becomes not worth the attorneys while to risk thousands of dollars and years of time to take these complicated cases.

The result: fewer instances of nursing home negligence will be brought to the attention of nursing homes. The cost of providing exemplary care becomes higher than the reduced cost of verdicts. Remember the Ford Pinto? The lesson we have learned time and time again is that lawsuits often provide corporations the proper incentive to take the full impacts (as determined by a jury if necessary) of negligence into consideration.

To be certain, this bill is designed to prevent attorneys from accepting nursing home cases and has nothing to do with freeing up funds to provide better resident care as claimed by the bill’s proponents.

If you have any questions about a nursing home abuse or negligence case in the Jacksonville Florida or Northeast Florida area, please contact our Jacksonville nursing home abuse and negligence lawyers.