Section 400.023, Florida Statutes 2009
400.023 Civil enforcement.--
(1) Any resident whose rights as specified in this part are violated shall have a cause of action. The action may be brought by the resident or his or her guardian, by a person or organization acting on behalf of a resident with the consent of the resident or his or her guardian, or by the personal representative of the estate of a deceased resident regardless of the cause of death. If the action alleges a claim for the resident's rights or for negligence that caused the death of the resident, the claimant shall be required to elect either survival damages pursuant to s. 46.021 or wrongful death damages pursuant to s. 768.21. If the action alleges a claim for the resident's rights or for negligence that did not cause the death of the resident, the personal representative of the estate may recover damages for the negligence that caused injury to the resident. The action may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce such rights and to recover actual and punitive damages for any violation of the rights of a resident or for negligence. Any resident who prevails in seeking injunctive relief or a claim for an administrative remedy is entitled to recover the costs of the action, and a reasonable attorney's fee assessed against the defendant not to exceed $25,000. Fees shall be awarded solely for the injunctive or administrative relief and not for any claim or action for damages whether such claim or action is brought together with a request for an injunction or administrative relief or as a separate action, except as provided under s. 768.79 or the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Sections 400.023-400.0238 provide the exclusive remedy for a cause of action for recovery of damages for the personal injury or death of a nursing home resident arising out of negligence or a violation of rights specified in s.
400.022. This section does not preclude theories of recovery not arising out of negligence or s. 400.022 which are available to a resident or to the agency. The provisions of chapter 766 do not apply to any cause of action brought under ss. 400.023-400.0238.
(2) In any claim brought pursuant to this part alleging a violation of resident's rights or negligence causing injury to or the death of a resident, the claimant shall have the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that:
(a) The defendant owed a duty to the resident;
(b) The defendant breached the duty to the resident;
(c) The breach of the duty is a legal cause of loss, injury, death, or damage to the resident; and
(d) The resident sustained loss, injury, death, or damage as a result of the breach.
Nothing in this part shall be interpreted to create strict liability. A violation of the rights set forth in s. 400.022 or in any other standard or guidelines specified in this part or in any applicable administrative standard or guidelines of this state or a federal regulatory agency shall be evidence of negligence but shall not be considered negligence per se.
(3) In any claim brought pursuant to this section, a licensee, person, or entity shall have a duty to exercise reasonable care. Reasonable care is that degree of care which a reasonably careful licensee, person, or entity would use under like circumstances.
(4) In any claim for resident's rights violation or negligence by a nurse licensed under part I of chapter 464, such nurse shall have the duty to exercise care consistent with the prevailing professional standard of care for a nurse. The prevailing professional standard of care for a nurse shall be that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar nurses.
(5) A licensee shall not be liable for the medical negligence of any physician rendering care or treatment to the resident except for the administrative services of a medical director as required in this part. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to protect a licensee, person, or entity from liability for failure to provide a resident with appropriate observation, assessment, nursing diagnosis, planning, intervention, and evaluation of care by nursing staff.
(6) The resident or the resident's legal representative shall serve a copy of any complaint alleging in whole or in part a violation of any rights specified in this part to the Agency for Health Care Administration at the time of filing the initial complaint with the clerk of the court for the county in which the action is pursued. The requirement of providing a copy of the complaint to the agency does not impair the resident's legal rights or ability to seek relief for his or her claim.
(7) An action under this part for a violation of rights or negligence recognized herein is not a claim for medical malpractice, and the provisions of s. 768.21(8) do not apply to a claim alleging death of the resident.
History.--ss. 3, 18, ch. 80-186; s. 2, ch. 81-318; ss. 6, 79, 83, ch. 83-181; s. 51, ch. 83-218; s. 1, ch. 86-79; s. 30, ch. 93-177; ss. 4, 49, ch. 93-217; s. 765, ch. 95-148; s. 30, ch. 99-225; s. 4, ch. 2001-45; s. 34, ch. 2001-62.