Elder Abuse Attorney Referral Service
Under California law, abuse of a senior is both a criminal and a civil offense. It may include almost any behavior that causes physical or mental harm in a vulnerable adult. In many cases, the abusers are the very caregivers who have been tasked with caring for an aging loved one. Some are even family members of the elderly victim. Nursing home abuse is also much more common than many would believe.
What is Criminal Elder Abuse?
California’s elder abuse statute, Penal Code 368 PC, defines a wide variety of crimes against seniors and allows the law to stretch to cover a number of situations. When anyone age 65 years old or older is physically abused, neglected, financially defrauded, abandoned, purposefully isolated, abducted or otherwise subjected to physical or mental suffering, it is considered abuse under California law.
Specific actions as defined by the law include:
- Inflicting physical injury or unjustifiable pain
- Emotional abuse that causes mental suffering
- Purposefully putting the senior in a situation where she is in danger without proper protection
- Neglecting or withholding care
- Fraud, theft, financial exploitation and other financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Any other actions that result in physical or mental suffering or emotional anguish
What Are the Civil Penalties?
If it can be proven that the crime included “recklessness, oppression, fraud or malice” as defined by the Elder Abuse Act, the senior or her family may be eligible for personal injury compensation. This requires a high standard of proof from the plaintiff, but it is often possible. This is especially true in the most horrendous cases where a senior suffered physical harm or mental anguish because their primary caregiver withheld necessary medical or personal care.
California’s Elder Abuse Act works with the state’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act to define senior abuse and lay out the possible penalties. This makes this area of the law more complex than many others. For that reason, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced attorney if you believe your loved one has been abused or neglected, or if you have been accused of elder abuse.
What if I’m Falsely Accused?
While any possibility of elder abuse should be investigated, false accusations are fairly common. In some cases, the senior’s medical conditions lead to symptoms that appear to be signs of physical abuse or neglect. Caring for an aging loved one can also lead to family drama and hard feelings, making it possible that the accuser is intentionally lying about the abuse.
An experienced elder abuse lawyer will be able to contact the best experts in the area to build your defense. This can greatly increase your chances that the charges will be reduced or dismissed. For this reason, it is imperative to talk to an attorney who understands the complexity of California’s senior abuse laws.
Can San Fernando Valley Bar Association (SFVBA) Help Me?
SFVBA Attorney Referral Service can find the best attorney for your needs. Contact us today to learn more about how the right elder abuse lawyer can help you win your case.