Elder Abuse Fatality Review Teams Proposed in Pending Florida Bill 452

Nursing Home Abuse Legislation and Laws

New legislation, Florida Senate Bill 452, proposed by Sen. Audrey Gibson (Democrat, Jacksonville) would establish elder abuse death investigation panels in many Florida counties. The Elder Abuse Teams would investigate resident deaths where abuse or neglect was determined to be the cause of the resident’s death.

“I believe this task force and the team is critically important to the state,” Senator Audrey Gibson

What Deaths Will the Elder Abuse Panels Investigate?

Glaringly, the elder abuse task force would only investigate cases where the death was confirmed by the state attorney to be from abuse or neglect. This greatly reduces the jurisdiction of what the panel can look at, as the overwhelming majority of nursing home neglect cases do not result in the state attorney confirming allegations of abuse. Rarely if ever does the state’s criminal apparatus come into play. This is precisely why families consult with civil justice lawyers, like those found at our firm.

Will Elder Abuse Death Committees Help the Problem of Neglect in Florida Facilities?

Sadly, probably not. That is not to say that the establishment of elder abuse infrastructure is a bad thing. It is always a step in the right direction when our legistlators recognize that Florida has a neglect problem in its facilities.

However, given our experience, this will not come close to remedying the problem. We are Florida nursing home abuse litigators. We handle cases from Miami to Panama City, and all parts in between. Our attorneys have successfully handled in excess of 1,000 elder abuse cases. There may have been 5 to 10 cases where the state attorney was involved. For this reason, the proposed legislation of Bill 452 is fatally flawed.* The Elder Abuse Fatality Review Teams will not have enough jurisdiction to look into cases of merit if they are reliant on the state attorney to move first.

*if there is a separate, state attorney team that will specifically review suspicious elderly death cases for the purposes of confirming elder abuse, this changes our opinion.

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