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What Duty Of Care Is Owed By A Rehab Center?


In the last decade, Florida has become a mecca for substance abuse rehab centers and halfway houses known as sober homes. Some of them put in the work for their patients, giving them a safe place to focus on getting their lives together – but some of them are only in their line of work to make as much money as possible. If you have had a bad experience in a Florida rehab center, it is crucial to be aware that these types of facilities do have a duty to exercise reasonable care for their patients – and a failure to do so can be actionable in court.

Multiple Laws Establish Duty Toward Patients

The apparatus surrounding substance abuse treatment in Florida is large, and there are many different types of treatment facilities contained therein. Not all of them are created equal – but if absolutely nothing else, a competent substance abuse treatment provider is generally seen as having a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the patients it takes in. Patients consent to enter the facility by engaging in what is known as detrimental reliance – they spend their time and money to live at the facility for the purpose of getting addiction help. This creates a duty for the rehab center to exercise appropriate care in taking care of the patient.

In addition to a common-law duty of care, it can be argued that since substance abuse rehab center facilities are classified as medical facilities, they should share in the same duty of care as any other medical facility or provider. State law does not specifically establish a duty of care for a rehab center, but for the people who work at it – negligence on the part of a healthcare provider (such as a doctor, nurse, licensed therapist, or social worker) is actionable if it can be shown that the prevailing standard of care was breached.

Several Potential Breaches of Duty

Negligence in a substance abuse rehab center can come in many forms, some of which may leave physical, mental, or emotional scars. Examples of negligence on the part of rehab center staff may include (but are not limited to):

  • Failure to keep the premises reasonably safe. Florida law recognizes a legal area called premises liability, under which a business owner or landowner has a duty to keep their property safe for visitors, and if someone is injured on the center’s premises, they may bring suit;
  • Medical negligence or malpractice. If someone requires affirmative medical treatment, and they do not receive it, or it is performed to a standard that is so far below the appropriate metric for medical care, the injured victim can generally file suit. However, the process for doing so is difficult in Florida – steps like undergoing “reasonable investigation” before a suit can even be filed are mandated to ensure that no frivolous claim is filed.
  • Negligent hiring. If a substance abuse treatment center hires a staff member with a dangerous or unethical background, who then acts negligently and injures a patient, that patient can bring suit against the center for hiring that individual in the first place.

It is also possible to be the victim of a crime in a substance abuse rehabilitation center, but crimes may or may not give rise to a presumption of negligence. There are multiple factors that must be taken into account.

Contact A Tampa Substance Abuse Treatment Center Attorney

Addiction treatment centers have a high burden to carry, with so many people relying on them to provide help in getting free of drugs or alcohol. A failure to exercise the required care can cause serious damage to a person’s life and livelihood. If you have questions or concerns about your treatment center, a Tampa treatment center negligence attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help to try and get them taken care of. Call our office today for a free consultation.



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