Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse Lawyer in San Diego

Elder abuse is an all too common yet often hidden problem across California. Seniors who become victims of elder abuse do not always have a voice to express their abuse and they may be abused behind closed doors in a nursing home or in their own home by caregivers. Unfortunately, many types of elder abuse involve a trusted person such as a family member, caregiver, stockbroker, attorney, or friend.

At The Law Office of Stephen Mitchell, we represent seniors who have suffered harm due to someone else’s actions, including physical, financial, or psychological abuse. If you have been abused or exploited, you have legal rights. Contact a San Diego elder abuse attorney at The Law Office of Stephen Mitchell to learn more about your legal options.

Frightening Elder Abuse Statistics

Seniors are one of the most vulnerable classes in society. Despite state and federal legislation designed to safeguard older adults, abuse, neglect, and exploitation is still too common.

  • An elder or dependent adult is abused every 3 minutes in California
  • Up to 2 million seniors in the US have been exploited, injured, or mistreated by someone they depend on for care
  • It’s estimated that 500,000 older adults are neglected or abused each year
  • About 1 out of every 10 seniors have experienced some form of elder abuse but only 1 in 14 cases gets reported

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse comes in many forms, although any type of wrongdoing against someone who is 65 or older can be classified as elder abuse. There are seven categories of elder abuse:

  • Abandonment
  • Self-neglect
  • Financial abuse or exploitation
  • Neglect
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse

Physical abuse is the most easily recognizable form of abuse and it may be perpetrated by a caregiver, nursing home staff member, or another nursing home resident. About two-thirds of physical abusers of the elderly in California are spouses and adult children.

Sexual elder abuse is any non-consensual sexual conduct, including when a senior is unable to give consent. More than 80% of victims of sexual abuse were in a nursing home or adult care facility, according to one recent study.

Emotional abuse of a senior is also considered elder abuse. Emotional abuse can be classified as verbal — such as humiliation, threats, intimidation, degradation, or constant yelling — or nonverbal abuse like isolating a senior or placing the senior in a constant state of fear. Emotional abuse is one of the most difficult forms of abuse to detect as the warning signs usually involve changes in a senior’s behavior or self-neglect.

Financial exploitation is estimated to cost seniors $2.6 billion every year. This type of abuse is defined as the improper, illegal, or unlawful taking of money or property from a senior and it may come in many forms:

  • Loss of real estate when a senior unwittingly signs a quitclaim deed to give title of their property to someone else
  • Someone acquiring power of attorney over a senior to access the elder’s accounts
  • Intentional bad advice from a professional, such as persuading an elder to buy unnecessary insurance or unsuitable investments to receive a commission
  • Mortgage loan fraud or predatory lending by convincing a senior to take out a loan with unreasonably high fees, interest, or high payments
  • Forging signatures
  • Misappropriation of assets
  • Telemarketer fraud

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Many seniors experience elder abuse in a nursing home setting. A shocking number of nursing homes in California have serious citations for violations that can cause death or serious injury as well as low staffing levels that increase the risk of harm. California nursing homes have a duty to provide a safe facility with a standard level of care. A nursing home that fails in this duty can be found liable for damages. Nursing home abuse and neglect can happen for many reasons:

  • Emotional abuse from staff, including isolating residents, threats, or insults. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) has found that over half of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) admit to yelling at patients.
  • Neglect, which may include failing to fix hazards, failing to provide proper medical attention, or failing to assist with personal hygiene.
  • Sexual abuse perpetrated by a staff member, visitor, or another resident.
  • Physical abuse which can also include over-medication and restraints.
  • Financial exploitation.
  • Prescription mistakes.
  • Understaffing, a common cause of abuse and injury.
  • Negligent hiring practices.
  • Insufficient training.

Reporting Elder Abuse

Unfortunately, it’s believed that most cases of elder abuse go unreported because the very people that should be taking care of seniors — including professional advisors, caregivers, and family members — are the source of the abuse. If you suspect someone is a victim of elder abuse, it’s important to take action and report what you see.

If you believe an older adult is in immediate and life-threatening danger, call 911. If you suspect mistreatment, contact the police, a Long-Term Care Ombudsman, or Adult Protective Services.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse in any form, you have legal options as well. An experienced San Diego elder abuse attorney can help you protect your legal rights and pursue a claim. Elder abuse cases are generally personal injury cases that are based on intentional action or negligence. In these cases, you have the right to seek compensation from the wrongdoer for the harm you have suffered.

Contact The Law Office of Stephen Mitchell to learn more about your legal options in an elder abuse case with a free consultation with an elder abuse lawyer in San Diego, CA.