Elder Abuse & Neglect
California’s elderly and infirm population is ever-growing, and as such, so is the risk that this vulnerable population may be the victims of abuse and neglect. In response, the California legislature has expressly stated that it “recognizes that elders and dependent adults may be subjected to abuse, neglect, or abandonment and that this state has a responsibility to protect these persons.” California Welfare & Institutions Code §15600(a). “[I]nfirm elderly persons and dependent adults are a disadvantaged class…and few civil cases are brought in connection with this abuse….” Welfare & Institutions Code §15600(h). Therefore, it was the intent of the California Legislature to “enable interested persons to engage attorneys to take up the cause of abused elderly persons and dependent adults.” Welfare and Institutions Code §15600(j). The laws that were established to protect this vulnerable population is referred to as the “Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act.”
Sadly, countless individuals are the victims of neglect and abuse each year. This neglect and abuse is suffered at the hands of nursing home employees, hospital staff, home health providers, caregivers, physicians, and more.
The following highlighted portions of the “Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act” describe just some of the ways that an individual may suffer abuse and/or neglect:
Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.07:
“Abuse of an elder or a dependent adult” means either of the following:
(a) Physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or other treatment with resulting physical harm or pain or mental suffering.
(b) The deprivation by a care custodian of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering.
Examples of physical abuse and neglect include force that results in injury or pain, improper use of restraints (both physical and pharmaceutical) for punishment or for a period beyond which was prescribed by a physician, assault, battery, and sexual assault.
Welfare and Institutions Code §15610.57
“(a) ‘Neglect’ means either of the following:
(1) The negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.
(2) The negligent failure of an elder or dependent adult to exercise that degree of self care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.
(b) Neglect includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Failure to assist in personal hygiene, or in the provision of food, clothing, or shelter.
(2) Failure to provide medical care for physical and mental health needs. No person shall be deemed neglected or abused for the sole reason that he or she voluntarily relies on treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone in lieu of medical treatment.
(3) Failure to protect from health and safety hazards.
(4) Failure to prevent malnutrition or dehydration.
(5) Failure of an elder or dependent adult to satisfy the needs specified in paragraphs (1) to (4), inclusive, for himself or herself as a result of poor cognitive functioning, mental limitation, substance abuse, or chronic poor health.
Additionally, the California Courts of Appeal and the California Supreme Court have examined the laws designed to protect elder and dependent adults, including what constitutes neglect. The term “neglect” refers to the failure of those responsible for attending to the basic needs and comforts of elderly or dependent adults, regardless of their professional standing, to carry out their custodial obligations; the statutory definition of neglect speaks not of the undertaking of medical services, but of the failure to provide medical care. Covenant Care, Inc. v. Superior Court, (2004) 32 Cal. 4th 771.
Finally, if a plaintiff is able to demonstrate to a clear and convincing standard that a party is liable for the neglect or abuse of an elder or dependent adult, and that the conduct is shown to have been reckless, oppressive, fraudulent or malicious, the court shall award to the plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees and cost. Welfare & Institutions Code Section 15657.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of abuse of neglect, please contact* the attorneys of Valentine Law Group for a consultation.
In addition, the attorneys of Valentine Law Group represent plaintiffs in cases that include:
Catastrophic Personal Injury
Government Tort Claims
Contact the attorneys of Valentine Law Group to evaluate your case today.