Elder abuse is a serious offense that results in billions of dollars worth of medical bills and financial losses each year. Elderly people are often unwilling to report abuse when the abuser is a close friend or family member. Intentional neglect of an elderly person on the part of a caretaker could lead to unintentional injuries. Caretakers who are found liable for injuries sustained as a result of elder abuse should be held responsible for the results of their neglect. Attorneys can assist the elderly and their family members with an elder abuse case.
Most of the guidance for elder abuse cases comes from state law. Each state has established similar laws to address cases in which an elderly person is physically abused or exploited by another person. However, there are federal laws related to elder abuse. Native tribes may also receive legal guidance for victims of abuse and their family members.
Federal and State Laws Related To Elder Abuse
There are three federal laws that relate to elder abuse:
The Elder Justice Act of 2009 put programs into place that are intended to help people detect the signs of elder abuse. Elder abuse prevention measures are also a part of the legislation. An Elder Abuse Coordinating Council was established as a result of the legislation.
The Elder Justice Act of 2009 also authorized funds for improved recruiting tactics in nursing home facilities and forensic centers that are dedicated to investigating elder abuse. People who witness elder abuse are required to report incidents to the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Older Americans Act establishes legal definitions of elder abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) is also funded through this legislation. Community education initiatives have been formed as a result of the Older Americans Act.
A portion of the Older Americans Act establishes community support for native tribes throughout the U.S. Education and training related to the detection and reporting of elder abuse is provided to tribe members through funds authorized by the legislation.
The Violence Against Women Act is intended to stop abuse against women that is initiated by a partner. Some sections of this legislation relates to elderly women in particular.
Part of this legislature allows for grants to be used to provide training and services to help elderly women who have been victimized by an abuser. These grants are intended to help female victims age 50 and older.
State laws related to elder abuse differ. Every state has adult protective services (APS) provisions that are intended to facilitate the reporting and investigation of elder abuse. Each state also maintains a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program that provides advocates for elderly people who have suffered from abuse.
Criminal law addresses types of abuse that occur when an elderly person is intentionally harmed by another person. Charges including assault, battery, theft and sexual assault can all be applied to situations involving elderly victims. Laws related to physical abuse apply to people of any age.
Abuse victims are able to seek civil remedies in many states. Domestic abuse victims are able to seek civil remedies in every state. Elderly people who have been financially exploited are often able to collect compensation under these statutes. Elderly victims of identity theft are provided protection by these statutes.
State laws have also been established to address the issue of exploitation of the elderly when a person steals from a trust or estate. Guardianship laws protect elderly people who are not able to protect themselves due to severe mental or physical disabilities. For example, an elderly person who is unable to make financial decisions due to advanced dementia can have a guardian appointed to make these decisions.
Getting Help With Elder Abuse
Dealing with the aftermath of elder abuse is heartbreaking. While you may not know where to turn if you or a loved one have been affected by elder abuse, there are trained attorneys available to handle your case. Our experienced legal team has the knowledge and skill needed when it comes to collecting the compensation our clients need and deserve in relation to elder abuse. Contact us today for more information and to schedule a consultation.