Chances are about 70% that you and I will eventually require the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility. However, very, very few people realize that the nursing home industry is secretly insulating itself from its own negligence and responsibility.
Many, if not most of Florida’s nursing homes now carry only a minimal amount of insurance coverage, normally $20,000. If one sues a nursing home for negligence or abuse, the injured party will probably be told that the nursing home has only a limited amount of insurance coverage.
“If you don’t want to accept this amount or less – then sue us.” This statement is the threat of today’s nursing homes. What the nursing homes do not tell you when you enroll a family member or loved one in the facility is that through a complicated system of management companies, holding companies, limited liability companies, no asset subsidiaries, etc., that it has become virtually impossible to ever reach the assets of the true corporate entity that owns the nursing home facility.
Case in point – one of our elderly clients was allowed to incur a Stage IV decubitus ulcer while under the care and treatment of a local nursing home. This elderly woman required extensive surgery in an attempt to resolve this painful open sore, however, her physical condition became so debilitated that she never recovered and will now be bedridden for the rest of her life. For your information, a decubitus ulcer is the most serious type of ulcer one can develop and is caused by failure to turn or rotate an elderly patient who is in bed or recovering from another illness.
The nursing home made every indication that it wanted to be fair and reasonable, however, at a settlement discussion, the nursing home stated that there was only a limited amount of insurance coverage, and in fact, this coverage had already been used to pay the nursing home’s attorney. Therefore, despite an obvious case of negligence against this particular nursing home, the insurance proceeds had been depleted due to its own attorney’s fees. We were basically told that there was nothing we could do. Therefore, despite the fact that this nursing home had allowed our elderly client to contract a very serious condition that required extensive surgery, the nursing home walked away free and clear and without any accountability.
Therefore, before you allow a nursing home to take care of a loved one or family member, be certain to ask about the insurance coverage availability, and also, do not sign any nursing home documents without having an attorney review them. you may be waiving many legal rights without realizing it.