Mr. Vosseller represents elders, dependent adults, and their families throughout California. As our population continues to age, nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities eagerly welcome new residents. Yet, many of these facilities intentionally rely on poorly trained staff and inadequate staffing levels in an attempt to maximize profits. Contact Mr. Vosseller if you suspect that your loved one is not receiving proper care in a nursing home or other residential facility.
What Is Elder Abuse?
"Elders" and "dependent adults" are protected by the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act. Under the Act, elder abuse may include physical abuse, neglect, fiduciary abuse, abandonment, isolation, or other treatment with resulting physical harm or mental suffering. Elder abuse also includes a care custodian's depriving an elder of the goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering.
Who Qualifies As An "Elder" Or A "Dependent Adult"?
An "elder is any resident who is 65 years of age or older. A "dependent adult" is any person between ages 16 and 64 who has physical or mental limitations that inhibit his or her ability to function normally and carry out activities of daily living, and any person between the ages of 18 and 64 who is admitted to a 24-hour health care facility. 24-hour health care facilities include acute-care hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, chemical dependency recovery hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities. "Elders" and "dependent adults" are protected under the Elder Abuse laws.
Signs of Elder Abuse
Some experts describe nursing home neglect as a "silent epidemic". Many patients in assisted living facilities cannot voice their troubles for fear of retaliation from those entrusted with their care.
"Neglect" refers to the failure of a person or organization to provide the care that a reasonable person in the same situation would provide. Common examples of neglect include:
•Failure to provide food, clothing, or shelter
•Failure to assist with personal hygiene
•Failure to care for physical and mental health conditions
•Lack of care for existing medical problems
•Poor access to medical services
•Failure to conform to health and safety standards
•Failure to report conditions that are detrimental to health
•Unreasonable physical restraint
•Use of physical restraint, chemical restraint, or psychotropic medications for any purpose that is not consistent with a physician's authorization; for example, using medications to effectively restrain or subdue an elder or dependent adult
•Heavy medication or sedation
•Caretakers cannot clearly or adequately explain the elder's condition
•Wounds, bruises, sores, welts, or cuts
•Elder reports of being slapped or mistreated
•Slapping, pushing, shaking, or beating
•Forcing an the victim to stay in a room for prolonged periods
•Unsanitary or unclean conditions
•Verbal and emotional abuse
•Injuries requiring emergency treatment or hospitalization
•Rapid weight gain or loss without physician or family notification
•Frequent illnesses that are not promptly reported to the physician and family
What Are Common Forms Of Physical Abuse?
Physical abuse of elders includes battery, assault with a deadly weapon, force that is likely to produce great bodily injury, unreasonable physical constraint, prolonged or continual deprivation of food or water, sexual assault or battery, use of physical or chemical restraint or psychiatric medication for punishment.
What Are Common Examples of Neglect?
Neglect is the most common form of abuse. Neglect includes the failure to act reasonably while caring for an elder or dependent adult, failure to assist in personal hygiene, failure to prevent malnutrition, failure to maintain proper hydration, and the failure to provide food, clothing, or shelter.
Where Can Elder Abuse Occur?
Elder abuse can occur in any setting, including the home. Most cases arise from abuse or neglect in nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities. In many instances, such facilities intentionally rely on poorly trained staff and inadequate staffing levels in an attempt to maximize profits.
What You Can Do To Prevent Or Discover Elder Abuse
•Visit your loved one often.
•Visit the facility at unannounced or unpredictable times.
•Talk to the nurses, aides, and other staff at the facility.
•Talk to your loved one's physician to remain informed about your loved one's health.
•Talk to the nursing home administrator.
•If you discover an injury or unusual condition, take photographs.
Who Can Bring A Lawsuit For Elder Abuse?
A lawsuit for elder abuse may be brought by:
•The "elder" or "dependent adult" that is enduring abuse
•The victim's estate or successors in interest if the victim has died
•The victim's family members if they witness the abuse
•The conservator or guardian of an incompetent elder or dependent individual
What Remedies Are Available In An Elder Abuse Case?
If the victim is still living, the victim can recover past and future expenses necessitated by the abuse, including increased care expenses, past and future wage loss, and damages for the mental suffering triggered by the abuse or neglect. The elder can also be awarded punitive damages if the misconduct is severe.
If the victim has died, the victim's estate or representatives can recover the same damages discussed above, plus damages resulting from the loss of the elder's care and comfort.
Plaintiffs are also entitled to recover attorneys' fees.