Los Angeles County Elder Abuse Lawyer
As the patriarchs and matriarchs of our family, our eldest loved ones deserve to age with grace and decorum. We all want to remember the time when they were physically and mentally strong, but at some point we must all face the reality that our eldest family members may soon become dependent on the care and compassion of others.
As they embark on their golden years, many senior citizens will have to turn to nursing homes and other care facilities for their care. When this decision has been made, we expect the caretakers to provide a high level of care and respect. Regrettably, nursing home neglect and abuse is a heartbreaking reality that many face every day.
California nursing homes are required by law to provide a specific standard of care to all patients. Failure to meet the needs of the patients is a form of abuse and should be immediately reported to your local law enforcement and the associated government agencies. Seeking the counsel of an attorney is also highly recommended to take the case to the next level.
In an effort to cut costs and increase profits, many nursing homes have been known to violate health and safety standards and hire employees that lack the proper training or education.
The California Attorney General’s office recently doubled the size of its elder abuse division after a study found that:
- Only one (1) nursing home in Los Angeles County was in full compliance for health and safety standards.
- Only eighteen (18) San Francisco nursing homes were in compliance
- Zero Santa Barbara area nursing homes were in compliance with these regulations
Four Categories Of Elder Abuse
The law defines elder abuse as any type of abuse or neglect against someone who is 65 years old or older. This distressing and tragic abuse is categorized into four main types of abuse.
Physical abuse includes any action that willfully inflicts bodily harm on the individual and may include, but is not limited to:
- Inflicting physical pain and/or suffering by slapping, hitting, biting, kicking or otherwise injuring the elderly person
- Physically restraining the elder individual
- Withholding water or food causing dehydration, malnutrition or starvation
- Sexual abuse of any kind
- Not properly administering medications or withholding some or all prescribed medications
Signs of physical abuse can include:
- Bite or burn marks, scratches, bruises, black eyes, lacerations, welts, rope marks
- Bone fractures/breaks, skull fractures
- Open cuts or wounds, puncture marks, untreated injuries in various stages of healing
- Sprains, dislocations, internal injuries/bleeding
- Broken glasses or frames
- Physical signs of being punished or restrained
- Laboratory findings of medication overdose or under utilization of prescribed drugs
- An elder’s sudden change in behavior
- The caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an elder alone
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area
- Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
- Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
- An elder’s report of being hit, slapped, kicked, or mistreated
- An elder’s report of being sexually assaulted or raped
Neglect can include many different situations and is not limited to the following:
- Allowing bed sores to occur by not turning individual
- Not providing good hygiene to keep the individual clean
- Starvation, malnutrition or dehydration
- Creating conditions that are dangerous for the individual
Signs of neglect can include:
- Dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene
- Unattended or untreated health problems
- Hazardous or unsafe living condition/arrangements (ie improper wiring, no heat, or no running water)
- Unsanitary and unclean living conditions (ie dirt, fleas, lice on person, soiled bedding, fecal/urine smell, inadequate clothing)
- An elder’s report of being mistreated
Emotional abuse can come in several forms, including:
- Threats or intimidation of being hurt or mistreated
- Isolation from others out of neglect or as punishment
- Ridicule or verbal abuse
Signs of emotional abuse can include:
- Being emotionally upset or agitated
- Being unusually withdrawn, non-communicative or non-responsive
- Unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia (e.g., sucking, biting, rocking)
- An elder’s report of being verbally or emotionally mistreated
Financial abuse can include many different situations, but are most commonly associated with:
- Theft of personal property for personal gain
- Forgery/fraud, including identity theft, or the signing of legal documents without proper consent
- Mismanagement of finances
Signs of financial abuse can include:
- Abrupt changes in bank account or banking practice, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder
- The inclusion of additional names on an elder’s bank signature card
- Unauthorized withdrawal of the elder’s funds using the elder’s ATM card
- Sudden changes to the person’s will or other financial documents
- Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
- Substandard care being provided or bills unpaid despite the availability of adequate financial resources
- Discovery of an elder’s signature being forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his/her possessions
- Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to an elder’s money or possessions
- Unexplained sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
- The provision of services that are not necessary
- An elder’s report of financial exploitation
Los Angeles County nursing homes are required by law to provide the following to all of their residents:
- A high standard of care for each resident that will allow them to live in a safe environment and that encourages them to have the highest quality of life possible with their specific limitations taken into consideration.
- Services and activities provided that enhance quality of life and maintain a healthy psycho-social balance. Programs should be in place to adjust to the changing needs of each patient.
- A written care plan should be completed on each patient so that all of their specific needs are met. This written plan should be followed daily and reevaluated every couple of months to ensure health and happiness.
What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse in Los Angeles County, CA
If you suspect that your loved one has been abused or is currently being abused in a nursing home, you must do the following:
- Talk to your loved one directly and ask them to tell you in detail what is going on. Any information that you receive from them should be properly documented with the time and date. Keep in mind that many elderly people suffer threats at the hands of their abuser. If they deny abuse, yet you still see physical signs, you must act to protect their interests.
- Take pictures of any evidence that has led you to believe there is abuse taking place. This includes bruises, bite marks, burns, bed sores, and dry and cracked lips, which are a sign of dehydration.
- Contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. You need to file a police report that abuse is taking place. Any type of abuse is illegal and a police report should be made to ensure that the authorities get involved.
- Follow through with your police report by contacting local government agencies that are in charge of elder abuse cases. The police will likely provide you with the information on whom to contact.
- Contact a lawyer. Elder abuse is a very serious crime and your attorney can help your loved one to ensure that the abuse is stopped, those responsible for the abuse are held accountable, and compensation is issued.
At the Los Angeles County Law Offices of Brent A. Duque, we maintain a staff of a highly professional, dynamic, aggressive and successful elder abuse attorneys who represent injured people through our offices that stretch across Southern California. Time limitations apply to any injury claim you might have, so for purposes of investigating a possible case and possibly preserving evidence, it’s best for you to contact us immediately after an injury or case of neglect. Contact the Los Angeles County law office of Brent A. Duque at 877-241-9554 for a free consultation and case evaluation. You can even use our online contact form, and we’ll reply to you quickly.