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Group Home Abuse and Neglect

   What is a Residential “Group Home”?


In Florida, a “group home” is a generic term for various types of 24-hour residential group care facilities licensed either by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (“AHCA”), the Florida Department of Children and Families (“DCF”), or the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (“APD”). Group homes that serve an elderly population, that serve a disabled population, or provide crisis stabilization for those with mental health issues are licensed by AHCA. Homes that serve children or provide drug, alcohol, and other mental health services on an inpatient basis are licensed by DCF. Group homes that only serve individuals with disabilities are licensed by APD.


   What are Some of the Specific Types of Residential Group Homes in Florida?


  1. Adult Family-Care Homes (Florida Statute § 429.60, et. seq.)


An adult family-care home is a residential home that provides 24-hour personal care services to no more than 5 disabled adults or frail elders who require such assistance. Typical services include assistance with or supervision of residents' activities of daily living, assistance with or supervision of the residents’ self-administration of medication, health monitoring, and the provision of social and leisure activities. Unlike nursing homes or assisted living facilities, the provider must live in the home with the residents. Adult family-care homes are licensed by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. As of April 2024, there were 225 adult family-care homes in Florida and 1,056 licensed adult family-care home beds.


Adult family-care homes are restricted in the types of residents they can admit. For instance, a resident who requires 24-hour nursing supervision cannot be admitted (or retained) in an adult family-care home unless the resident is an enrolled hospice patient and the continued residency is mutually agreeable to the resident and the provider. This exception allows residents to remain in a familiar environment as they live out their last days.


Residents of adult-family care homes also have rights. Florida Statute § 429.85 establishes the adult-family-care home residents’ Bill of Rights. Those rights include, but are not limited to, the following:


  1. The right to live in a safe and decent living environment, free from abuse and neglect.

  2. The right to be treated with consideration and respect and with due recognition of personal dignity, individuality, and privacy.

  3. The right to keep and use personal clothes and other personal property in the resident’s immediate living quarters, except when the provider can demonstrate that doing so would be unsafe or interfere with the rights of other residents.

  4. The right to unrestricted private communication, including sending and receiving unopened correspondence, having access to a telephone, and visiting with any person between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. at minimum.

  5. The right to be free to participate in and benefit from community services and activities to achieve the highest possible level of independence, autonomy, and interaction within the community.

  6. The right to manage their personal affairs, unless the resident or the resident’s legal representative authorizes the provider to provide safekeeping for funds.

  7. The right to share a room with a spouse, if both are residents of the adult family-care home.

  8. The right to engage in exercise several times per week and to be outdoors at regular and frequent intervals.

  9. The right to exercise civil and religious liberties, including the right to independent personal decisions.

  10. The right to have access to adequate and appropriate health care.

  11. The right to be free from chemical and physical restraints.

  12. The right to have 30 days’ notice of relocation or termination of residency, unless for medical reasons, the resident requires an emergency relocation or the resident is engaging in a pattern of conduct that is harmful or offensive to other residents.

  13. The right to present grievances or recommend changes to the provider, to staff, or to any other person without restraining, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal.


When these rights are violated, an adult family-care home resident has a cause of action against the adult family-care home, the individual provider, and/or the individual staff member(s) responsible for the violation. An action against an adult family-care home may be brought by the resident, the resident’s guardian, or any other third party acting on behalf of the resident. Generally, a Plaintiff in an action against an adult family-care center may seek both actual and punitive damages, where appropriate, along with prevailing plaintiff attorneys’ fees and costs (if certain statutory conditions are satisfied). See Fla. Stat. § 429.87. An adult family-care home resident may also pursue a negligence claim, as the remedies provided in the Adult Family-Care Home Act are in addition to other legal remedies available to the resident.

We Sue Group Homes for Abuse, Neglect, and Elder Exploitation

Call (844) FIDJ-LAW to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.

2. Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled Persons (Florida Statute § 400.960, et. seq.)


Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled (“ICF/DD”) provide care and residence for individuals with developmental disabilities. A developmental disability is a disorder or syndrome that is attributable to retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida, or Prader-Willi syndrome that manifests before the age of 18 and constitutes a substantial handicap that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely. As of April 2024, there were 104 Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled in Florida and 2,824 licensed ICF/DD beds.


In Florida, all persons with developmental disabilities are afforded certain additional legal rights. Those rights are broken down into 2 categories: (a) all persons with developmental disabilities, regardless of whether the individual receives services through the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and (b) individuals with developmental disabilities who receive services through the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities.


Legal Rights for All Persons with Developmental Disabilities, Regardless of Whether He or She Receives Services through the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

(a) The right to dignity, privacy, and humane care, free from abuse and exploitation.

(b) The right to religious freedom and practice without restriction.

(c) The right to services that protect personal liberty in the least restrictive conditions necessary for treatment.

(d) The right to quality education and training services, regardless of age or disability, including instruction in sex education, marriage, and family planning.

(e) The right to social interaction and participation in community activities.

(f) The right to physical exercise and recreational opportunities.

(g) The right to be free from harm, including restraint, isolation, excessive medication, abuse, or neglect.

(h) The right to consent to or refuse treatment, except under guardianship.

(i) The right to non-discrimination in any program receiving public funds, regardless of developmental disability.

(j) The right to vote in public elections, without denial due to developmental disability.


See Fla. Stat. § 393.13(3).


Legal Rights for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Who Receive Services through the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities


(a) The right to unrestricted communication and visitation, with exceptions.

(b) The right to possess and use personal clothing and effects, with exceptions.

(c) The right to prompt and appropriate medical treatment and care.

(d) The right to individual storage space for private use.

(e) The right to physical exercise as prescribed, with indoor and outdoor facilities provided.

(f) The right to humane discipline.

(g) The right to be free from treatment programs for behavioral issues without physician examination.

(h) The right to be free from unnecessary restraint or seclusion, with exceptions.

(i) The right to have a central record established by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities containing information pertaining to admission, diagnosis, treatment history, present condition, and any other information as may be required.

(j) The right to vote in public elections.


See Fla. Stat. § 393.13(4).


In addition to claims for negligence, any person who violates the legal rights of persons with developmental disabilities is liable for damages. See Fla. Stat. § 393.13(5).

3. Transitional Living Facilities (Florida Statute § 400.997, et. seq.)


Transitional Living Facilities provide specialized health care services to those who have brain or spinal cord injuries. Such services include, but are not limited to, rehabilitative services, behavior modification, community reentry training, aids for independent living, and counseling. To be admitted to a transitional living facility, an individual must have an acquired internal or external injury to the skull, the brain, or the brain’s covering, caused by a traumatic or non-traumatic event, that produces an altered state of consciousness, or a spinal cord injury, such as a lesion to the spinal cord or cauda equine syndrome, with evidence of significant involvement of at least 2 or more of the following deficits or dysfunctions:


(a) A motor deficit.

(b) A sensory deficit.

(c) A cognitive deficit.

(d) A behavioral deficit.

(e) Bowel and bladder dysfunction.


A transitional living facility may not admit the following individuals: those whose primary admitting diagnosis is mental illness or a developmental disability, those who present a significant risk of infection to others, those who are considered dangers to themselves or others, those who are bedridden, or those who require 24-hour nursing supervision. 

As of April 2024, there were 19 transitional living facilities in Florida and 371 licensed transitional living  facility beds.

Our team of attorneys is dedicated to fighting inequity and demanding justice for those who have suffered at the hands of a group home. If you suspect your loved one was injured at the hands of a group home, including an adult family-care center, intermediate care facility, or transitional living facility, contact the experienced attorneys at FIDJ, before it’s too late.

Five steps if you suspect group home abuse or neglect


I’m not sure if I have a case. Can I speak with an attorney at FIDJ?


Absolutely. You can and should reach out to us if you have any concerns or suspicions regarding group home abuse or neglect. Our experienced attorneys are available to evaluate your situation and provide guidance on a path forward. 


I cannot afford a lawyer. Can I still hire you to sue a group home?


Yes. The experienced injury attorneys at FIDJ work on a contingency fee basis. That means, we only get paid if there is a monetary recovery associated with your case. 


I might have signed an arbitration agreement. Can I still sue the group home for damages?


Yes. It’s common for care providers to include arbitration clauses in their agreements as a way to keep cases out of the public eye and limit potential damages. However, the experienced attorneys at FIDJ can carefully assess the validity and enforceability of your arbitration clause. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to challenge and potentially invalidate the arbitration agreement, allowing your case to proceed to civil court where it can be heard before a jury. In the event an arbitration clause is enforceable, our attorneys can still represent you in the arbitration process.


How long do I have to file a group home abuse or neglect lawsuit?


In Florida, group home injury cases must be brought within four (4) years of the date of injury and/or the date of death. This four (4) year deadline is known as a “statute of limitations”. However, do not delay as there may be prior injuries that you do not know about. In addition, many care providers have notoriously high staff turnover rates. Therefore, unnecessary delay can make it more difficult to locate potential witnesses. 


How long do group home lawsuits last?


Each case is unique. While some cases settle before a lawsuit is filed, other cases require a trial. As a rule of thumb, however, you can expect a jury trial within two (2) years of filing your lawsuit. The finality of cases can be extended by the appellate process. If your case is subject to a valid arbitration clause, you can generally expect a quicker resolution.


Are you going to handle my case or refer it to another law firm?


We are not an attorney referral service. If we take your case, we handle your case.

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