When to Contact an Orlando Group Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer
Group homes are intended to create a communal living environment for adults or children with disabilities where residents receive around-the-clock supervision, including medical and therapeutic care. When you place a family member in a group home you do so with the expectation that your loved one will be well cared for and safe. The sad reality, however, is that group home residents are frequently victims of abuse and neglect. If you suspect that a loved one has been victimized, knowing when to contact an Orlando group home abuse and neglect lawyer is imperative.
Group Home Abuse and Neglect Facts and Figures
There are certainly group homes that provide competent care to residents, exceptional oversight of staff and report incidents of abuse/neglect to the proper authorities. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of group homes fail on at least one of those measurements. A joint report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Administration for Community Living (ACL), and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) took an in-depth look of group homes in three states to determine how common abuse was and how compliant the homes were with oversight rules and regulations. The study found that “health and safety policies and procedures were not being followed. Failure to comply with these policies and procedures left group home beneficiaries at risk of serious harm. These are not isolated incidents but a systemic problem – 49 States had media reports of health and safety problems in group homes.”
Moreover, the same report found that state agencies
- Failed to ensure that group homes reported all critical incidents
- Failed to ensure that all critical incidents reported by group homes were properly recorded
- Failed to ensure that group homes always reported incidents at the correct severity level
- Failed to ensure that all data on critical incidents were collected and reviewed
- Failed to ensure that reasonable suspicions of abuse or neglect were properly reported.
Why Is Abuse and Neglect Common in Group Homes?
Residents of group homes are there because they have physical and/or cognitive disabilities that require them to live in a supervised setting. Those same disabilities make them exceptionally vulnerable because they are frequently unable to communicate effectively much less defend against a predator. A recent NPR series found that individuals with intellectual disabilities are seven times more likely to be sexually assaulted than people without disabilities – and that figure refers to assaults that occur in family settings. Experts believe that figure is likely much higher in group home settings. The harsh reality is that the vulnerable nature of group home residents coupled with the systemic failure to provide adequate oversight combine to create the perfect set of circumstances in which abuse and neglect flourish.
Signs of Group Home Abuse or Neglect
Because group home residents are often incapable of communicating effectively it is imperative that loved ones look for signs that could indicate abuse or neglect, such as:
- Unexplained bruising
- Evidence that restraints have been used unnecessarily
- Excessive and/or unexplained injuries
- Weight loss
- Deteriorating hygiene
- Mood swings
- Hostility or anger
- Depression or withdrawal
- Unexplained deteriorating health
- Urinary tract infections or other possible signs of sexual activity
When Should I Contact an Orlando Group Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer?
Suspecting that a loved one is being abused or neglected at a group home is a horrible feeling. One that is made worse by the knowledge that the very people you trusted to protect and care for your loved one are responsible for — or at least complicit in – allowing the abuse or neglect to occur. Contacting an experienced group home abuse and neglect lawyer should be your first step.
Abuse or neglect of a disabled adult or child can be a criminal offense; however, it can also form the basis of a civil lawsuit. Not only the individual perpetrator(s) but the administrators and the facility itself can be held legally liable for abuse or neglect and be required to compensate the victim in a civil lawsuit. The Orlando group home abuse and neglect attorney at Warner & Warner are dedicated to holding all parties responsible when a group home resident is abused or neglected. We routinely work with law enforcement agencies, government authorities, and prosecutors when criminal charges are warranted as well. Our specialized experience with group home abuse and neglect cases ensures that we will aggressively advocate and litigate for victims to ensure that they are fully compensated and that the responsible parties are held accountable.
If you suspect that a loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect at a group home, call us at 321-972-1889 or contact us online to schedule a free case review.