Elder Abuse and Neglect Overview
California is faced with a growing population of seniors and dependent adults living in nursing homes and the state has various laws that protect this population from any abuse or neglect. Many of us have watched news stories where videos of seniors being abused are shown, this type of abuse is horrific and can leave a family completely terrorized. There are both civil and criminal laws to protect residents of California from blatant and more subtle abuse.
Beyond cases in which a resident of a nursing home or assisted living home is directly physically abused, California laws provide residents of these facilities numerous rights, when these rights are violated, the resident being abused or neglected may be able to take legal action against the facility.
Our firm has successfully represented numerous families in holding nursing homes and assisted living facilities civilly responsible.
Where Could I Find the California Laws that Specifically Protect Residents of Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Homes from Abuse and Neglect?
Elder abuse is a crime, and if you suspect a loved one is being physically abused call 9-1-1 and report the physical abuse right away.
Civilly, the laws that protect seniors and dependent adults from various forms of abuse can be found in California’s Welfare and Institutions Code section 15600, in this section you can find various protections described below. You can also call one of our attorneys to discuss your specific situation.
Who is Protected by California’s Elder Laws?
California’s Welfare and Institutions Code section 15600 provides additional protections and remedies to certain individuals. Under the statute, additional remedies and protections are provided for:
- Persons that are 65 years of age or older (an Elder under the law)
- Dependent Adults- Under section 15610.23 is defined as a person between 18 and 64 years of age who has physical or mental limitations that restrict his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights. This includes persons who have physical or developmental disabilities or whose physical or mental abilities have diminished because of age. The person must be admitted as an inpatient to facility.
What Actions are Considered Abuse of an Elder or a Dependent Adult?
The law in California defines abuse broadly. Abuse comes in many forms, California law protect this population from abuse that includes physical abuse, financial abuse, neglectful treatment, and isolation. Many wrongful actions may qualify as abuse, including depriving the elder or dependent adult from care or goods that are necessary to the resident.
There are many forms of physical abuse that are covered under the law, some include battery, unreasonable constraint, sexual assault or rape, and keeping the person without food or water. If you have a question as to whether some treatment qualified as abuse, contact one of our attorneys today to discuss.
What Type of Negligence is Covered by The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act?
Many negligent acts against the elderly or dependent adults are covered under California law, including:
- Failure to assist in the personal hygiene, provision of food.
- Failure in providing medical care for physical or mental needs.
- Failure to protect against health and safety hazards
- Failure to prevent malnutrition or dehydration.
If you are unsure if an act by a nursing home or assisted living home qualifies as neglect, please contact one of our attorneys.
What Are Common Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect?
Abuse happens in all sorts of different ways, many families cannot keep constant watch on loved ones in nursing homes or assisted living homes and this is why it is important to be vigilant when visiting to look for some of the common signs of abuse:
- Unexplained injuries like bruises, cuts, and scabs.
- The same injury happens multiple times
- Untreated medical conditions
- Body sores
- Malnourishment or dehydration
- Unchanged diapers or bed sheets.
- Falls that occur when unsupervised
What to do if a Loved One Has Been Abused or Neglected While in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility?
- If you believe your loved one has been abused or neglected while at a nursing home or assisted living facility and the situation is urgent, call 911. Make sure do document the neglect or abuse as much as possible and call an attorney to discuss the case.
- Make sure you call the facility to let them know about the abuse or neglect and document each time the facility was notified and who you spoke to.
- A report may also be filed with State Department of Health Services which has a nursing home division
What Can Our Family Recover if We Lost a Loved One Due to Nursing Home or Assisted Living Home Negligence?
Types of compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one is found in the California Code of Procedure § 377.61. The statue as interpreted by various cases over time find that, depending on the case, there may be compensation for:
- Loss of love, companionship, comfort, assistance, affection, protection, moral support
- Loss of the decedent’s training and guidance
- Loss of financial support
- Funeral and burial expenses
If a family member witnessed the abuse or neglect, and suffered emotional distress as a result, claims for “negligent infliction of emotional distress” on their behalf might be appropriate and should be investigated by an attorney.
In elder abuse cases additional recovery can be sought for attorney fees and the decedent’s pain and suffering before death, under Welf. & Inst. Code, § 15657(a).
Who can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit or Claim Against a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Home for Negligence Leading to the Death of a Family Member?
In California, only certain family members may file a claim for the wrongful death of another. While every case is different, the following family members may have a claim for wrongful death: spouses, children, parents, and siblings. There are some exceptions, if you have questions about whether or not you may file a claim for wrongful death, please contact our firm and ask an attorney directly.
How Much Will It Cost Our Family to Hire an Attorney and Investigate and File a Claim for the Abuse or Neglect of a Family Member in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility?
Our firm works on a contingency basis for elder abuse claims, this means your family will not pay anything until there is monetary recovery. This means Corrales Law Group will pay all upfront costs of investigations, hiring of experts, retaining all medical records, etc.
How Can I Consult with An Attorney If I Have Trouble with Transportation?
Our attorneys take on elder abuse and elder neglect cases all over California. Our attorneys provide consultations via Zoom meetings, Facetime, Skype, and Telephone. All documents may be signed easily through e-mail via Docu-sign. Contact us to set up a consultation today.