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Legislation accused of weakening nursing home abuse liability

When an elderly patient in a Corinth nursing home is the victim of nursing home negligence or abuse, often the only path is to seek financial compensation for the damages caused. It is not uncommon for patients to be victims of nursing home abuse over an extended period of time since, in many cases, they are unable to speak up for themselves and the abuse goes undetected. If the nursing home has a pattern of patients being abused, those filing a lawsuit on behalf of the victim can often ask for punitive damages, which is essentially a financial judgment that is designed to encourage care centers to address the problem.

However, a state senator is sponsoring a bill that some say will weaken victims' attempts to hold nursing homes accountable. The bill, which recently received the approval of the state's Senate Judicial Committee, is being called offensive to the elderly and a protection for the nursing home companies trying to avoid being punished.

The senator says that the bill is not designed to keep people from filing lawsuits but to essentially make sure that there is sufficient evidence that exists. The legislation would require people suing a nursing home to show this evidence at a hearing and that if it is decided there is not enough evidence, the lawsuit will likely not be allowed to continue.

Many groups, including AARP and nursing home advocates, are in opposition to the proposed bill. There was no information released relating to how much evidence would be needed to prove that the lawsuit is warranted. If passed, such legislation could allow assisted living and nursing homes to escape from financial punishment, putting more elderly residents at risk.

Source: The Florida Current, "Nursing home bill proceeds," James Call, April 1, 2013

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