What to do if you or someone you know has been the victim of Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse comes in many forms and is always devastating. The best place to start is to trust your instincts. If you think something is wrong, or if something has happened which has caused harm to your loved one, you should act on it immediately.

First, if you feel you need to speak with a lawyer, please call us now at (800) 210-2104. As with all Higher Legal services, there is no charge to speak with us. Next, document the abuse. Take photos of all bed sores, bruises, lack of hygiene and visible injuries.

The California Department of Justice has additional information about the rights of persons who have been a victim of elder or dependent adult abuse.

There are many different kinds of elder abuse. Some is covered under civil law and some under criminal law. Elder abuse involves persons who are age 65 or older and who are dependent on others for any of their activities of daily living. It also includes what are defined as “Dependent Adults” who are persons between the ages of 18 and 64 who have physical or mental limitations that restrict their ability to carry out the normal activities of daily living or to protect their own rights.

The civil laws in California which describe elder abuse are contained in the California Welfare & Institutions Code. Higher Legal can assist you in the following types of civil elder abuse cases in California:

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Physical Abuse

If your loved one has suffered physical injury, sexual assault or molestation, or the use of physical or chemical restraints for punishment without, or beyond, the scope of a doctor's order, we can help. Look for any scars, broken bones, bruising or periods of loss of consciousness. All of these forms of physical injuries to an elder can all be life threatening.

Physical Neglect

Like physical abuse, physical neglect involves the failure of a caregiver or facility to fulfill its caretaking obligations such as assisting in personal hygiene, providing food and shelter, and protecting your loved one from hazardous situations. This the most common type of elder abuse and can be seen when living conditions are filthy, facilities are understaffed, and it often leads to patients lying in their own urine or feces, becoming malnourished, developing terrible pressure sores, infections and bruising, all of which are painful and can lead to death.

Financial Abuse

This occurs when there is illegal or unethical exploitation and/or use of an elder’s funds, property, or other assets. This is often seen when a senior is pressured into signing a quitclaim deed or grant deed to their property, or forced to sign a Power of Attorney which allows access to their bank account. All of this is considered financial elder abuse. The non-profit California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) provides additional resources on financial elder abuse.

Elder abuse cases are some of the most legally and factually complex civil cases in California. Most attorneys have no idea how to handle them. That is why it is so important that you hire an attorney who is an expert in elder law, otherwise you may not sue the right persons and not make a recovery.

In addition to immediately contacting an attorney who specializes in elder abuse law, it is imperative that you preserve evidence. There are unfortunately many cases involving the alteration or destruction of records in elder abuse situations. Getting accurate records of what happened within the facility is extremely important and often, the sooner you act, the easier it is to get accurate, unaltered records. So, whenever possible, we encourage you to get a complete set of records from the facility where you believe the abuse occurred. This should include the entire administrative file, all care records, all service notes, all medication administration records, all ADL notes, all incident reports, and correspondence and everything else the facility has which pertains to your loved one. You should also get the names and contact information for all care providers and other residents and their family members. All of these persons are potential witnesses. Employee turnover can be extremely high in these facilities and rapid turnover makes it difficult to contact the witnesses who provided care or witnessed the abuse and neglect. Getting names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses for anyone who provided care or worked at the facility at the time your loved one was there is very important.

Higher Legal is certified by the California State Bar (LRS #130) so you can trust the information you receive from Higher Legal is the most reliable legal information available and has met the strictest standards of the State Bar. You can call us at (800) 210-2104, or fill out this form and a licensed California attorney will get back to you within the next business day.

For an excellent Elder Abuse Attorney in Culver City, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Woodland Hills, San Gabriel, El Monte, Whittier, Baldwin Park, Alhambra, Norwalk, Pomona, Long Beach, Torrance, Glendale, Pasadena or any surrounding area, contact Higher Legal and speak with a lawyer for free.

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