During the past year, about 1 in 6 people who are 60 years and older have experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year. Unfortunately, rates of elder abuse are high in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Accordingly, elder abuse, whether it is in a nursing home setting, or perpetrated by family members is something that should be stopped as soon as it is discovered.
In this article, we will tackle the tough issue of elder abuse, define what it is, and discuss what a legal claim of elder abuse might look like. If, after reading this blog, you have additional questions about your own situation, then we welcome you to contact the personal injury attorneys in Stuart, FL – Crary Buchanan. At Crary Buchanan, we are proud of our standard of excellence, which has allowed us to thrive as one of the oldest law firms on Florida’s Treasure Coast.
Our personal injury lawyers in Stuart are passionate about giving you the highest quality representation. Call us today at 772-287-2600, or schedule a free estate planning to consult online with our online contact form.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse or neglect is action or inaction, done intentionally, by a caregiver that results in potential or actual harm to an adult 60 years or older. The abuse can occur in nursing homes, in which a member of the nursing staff is the abuser. However, more often elder abuse is a domestic issue. Abusers can be the adult children or grandchildren of the elder abuse victim, or can even be the spouse of the victim.
Elder abuse is not just physical abuse. The concept of elder abuse incorporates all forms of abusive conduct, including abuse that is physical, emotional, sexual, financial, or borne of neglect.
There are, however, some clear signs of such abuse that you may be able to identify easily.
Signs of Elder Abuse
There are a few “red flags” that may help you quickly identify elder abuse. They include:
1. Unexplained injuries or signs of neglect. If an elder has visible sores or bruises, contracts a sexually transmitted disease, suffers from malnutrition, dehydration, or soiled clothing, they could all be tell-tale signs.
2. Unusual financial conduct. Financial elder abuse could manifest as suspicious bank activity, major withdrawals, unpaid bills, or missing personal property.
3. Withdrawn or uncharacteristic behavior. Emotional abuse could be more difficult to detect. Yet, signs of emotional or psychological abuse could be where the victim is withdrawn, avoids eye contact, shows low self-esteem, engages in self-injury, attempts to hurt others, or shows sharp mood swings.
A Legal Elder Abuse Claim
What is most important to know is that elder abuse can be prosecuted criminally as well as in a civil lawsuit. Indeed, if you discover signs of elder abuse of a loved one, you should call the authorities so there can be an investigation. More often than not, an elder abuse case can be handled by the State of Florida as a criminal matter, in which the abuser would face criminal sanctions like fines, and possible time in prison.
That being said, Florida also has a statute that provides a civil cause of action for abuse of the elderly. It is a lawsuit that can be brought by the victim, or by that person’s guardian or an organization acting on behalf of the victim.
A civil lawsuit under Florida Statute 415.1111 (an action for abuse of the elderly) would proceed similar to other personal injury actions. The plaintiff would need to prove the abuse and then seek actual and punitive damages.
Part of actual damages would include compensation to the victim for medical expenses, financial losses, emotional distress, and pain and suffering to name a few. In addition, punitive damages are available to elder abuse victims in Florida. Punitive damages are awarded to specifically punish the abuser in order to discourage such conduct by others in the future. Punitive damages can be significant, sometimes three times the amount of actual damages.
Let the Personal Injury Attorneys in Stuart Help with Your Elder Abuse Case
It is among one of the most tragic circumstances when those charged with the care and well being of senior citizens are actually the ones who are causing them the most harm. Elder abuse is a detestable crime and should be punished. If you have put your elderly loved one in the care of a nursing home or caretaker then you trust those people to provide them with the care that they can no longer provide themselves.
Sometimes, caretakers participate in abusive practices that cause patients both physical and emotional harm. Elder abuse can be physical, psychological, and emotional. Nursing home staff may become impatient with the elderly and lash out in physical violence toward them. Since the elderly cannot defend themselves, they may feel as if they have no way out of this abuse. If you notice signs of harm then contact authorities immediately.
Caretakers may also neglect to keep up sanitation which can leave the elderly living in an unsanitary atmosphere that can make them ill. Caretakers may even verbally threaten their patients or neglect them, which can constitute emotional and psychological abuse. If you notice signs of any of these types of abuse, contact the authorities immediately and get in touch with the elder abuse lawyers from our firm.
If you have noticed recent signs of elder abuse then you need to take action. Our firm personal injury attorneys in Stuart have the experience you need to help the elderly get justice in cases of abuse. You will be treated with the utmost care and compassion when dealing with a Stuart, Martin County lawyer from our firm, while they simultaneously will be fighting aggressively on your behalf.
At Crary Buchanan, we are committed to providing clients with exceptional service in every aspect of personal injury law. You can depend upon our 85 years of experience in the Florida legal industry.
Our clients are more than case numbers; they are people. We recognize that you are an individual with unique needs and expectations. Our team is here to meet your need and exceed your expectations. When you work with us, you can have confidence that a caring legal advocate is on your side.
If you have more questions or want a dedicated personal injury attorney in Stuart to help you, call 772-287-2600 or schedule a free consult online with our online contact form. You can always depend on Crary Buchanan for community, experience, and trust. Call today.