Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect
Elder abuse is a problem that is greatly hidden from the eyes of many Americans. Due to limited surveillance, it is difficult to determine how many older Americans are abused on a regular basis. The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study suggests that only 16 percent of elder abuse situations are reported, while the remaining 84 percent remain hidden. Estimating that there may be as many as 5 million victims every year, the Senate Special Committee on Aging shows that elder abuse is a prevalent problem in the United States.
Among these studies, one consistent finding is that reports of elder abuse have increased each year. Orange County attorney Jeff Roberts answers commonly asked questions about elder abuse and nursing home neglect below. If you’d like to speak with him about a potential claim, please contact our office today.
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse is the knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm to a vulnerable adult. Elder abuse in California is governed largely by the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA). The EADACPA provides that a claim for civil action includes physical abuse, neglect, or other treatment with resulting physical harm or pain.
Who is protected by elder abuse laws?
California elder abuse protection applies to any resident in California who is 65 years of age or older. Elder abuse laws also apply to any dependent adult between the ages of 16 and 64 who is admitted to a 24-hour inpatient health care facility, including nursing homes and psychiatric health facilities.
Who can bring an elder abuse action?
In California, the following individuals can bring an action for elder abuse:
- The elder who has been physically harmed by the abuse
- If the elder is dead, the elder’s estate or successors in interest
- Family members who witnessed the abuse
- A conservator or guardian
If you feel a loved one is the victim of elder abuse, contact Orange County attorney Jeff Roberts to discuss your options. Mr. Roberts serves all Southern California areas, including Newport Beach, Santa Ana, and surrounding communities.
Where is abuse most likely to occur?
Elder abuse can occur in any setting. However, basic categories include:
- Domestic elder abuse: When an elder is abused by a spouse, sibling, child or caregiver. This abuse occurs in the elder’s home or in the home of a caregiver.
- Institutional elder abuse: When an elder is abused while receiving care in an inpatient residential facility such as a nursing home, group home, or care facility. The elder is abused by the employees of these facilities who have a duty to provide the elder with care and protection.
What is physical abuse?
Physical abuse is defined as the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury or pain. Physical abuse may involve the use of violence acts like shaking, slapping, or kicking. Physical abuse under the EADACPA includes:
- Unreasonable physical restraint or chemical restraint
- Deprivation of food or water
- Sexual assault
- Sexual battery
What is neglect?
Neglect is defined as a failure to act reasonably in the care of an elder. Examples of neglect include deprivation of food or water or failure to assist the elder in maintaining personal hygiene. Neglect can result in physical harm to the elder in the form of malnutrition, dehydration, and even death.
What are common physical injuries that result from elder abuse?
Common injuries from elder abuse include:
- Bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations
- Broken bones, fractures, dislocations
- Open wounds or cuts
When can someone be held liable for elder abuse?
In California, liability will be imposed upon a defendant who is reckless. A defendant’s reckless conduct in caring for an elder can be proven if he or she acted with a high degree of knowledge and with a deliberate and conscious disregard of the consequences of the abusive actions.
What are the remedies available in elder abuse cases?
Plaintiffs in an elder abuse case may recover:
- Monetary damages for pain and suffering
- Attorney’s fees
- Recover past and future medical expenses-if the elder is still alive
- Punitive damages when the conduct is severe enough
It is important to note that a plaintiff is entitled to recover for monetary damages for the elder’s pain and suffering even if the elder dies before the trial. This remedy, along with recovery of attorney’s fees, is special remedies under the elder abuse statutes that make elder abuse cases different from any other personal injury case.
Contact Roberts | Jeandron Law
Elder abuse involves many complex issues that require time and thorough investigation by a qualified individual. Attorney Jeff Roberts has the experience and ability to help you resolve these issues and provide answers to your questions concerning elder abuse litigation. Contact our Orange County practice today to discuss your claim.