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Protecting the Elderly as a Sacramento Elder Abuse Lawyer
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse refers to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver (including nursing homes and assisted living facilities) or a person who causes the elder harm or exposes the elder to a serious risk of harm. Abuse may be:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Neglect/Abandonment by Caregivers
- Financial or Exploitative Abuse – Financial or exploitative abuse is the illegal taking of the elderly person’s funds or property. This typically occurs when a relative, friend, or caregiver gains the elder’s trust for the purpose of having the elder transfer his or her savings to the relative, friend, or caregiver. All too often, the person who is entrusted exploits this trust by using the elder’s money for personal use.
- Healthcare Fraud and Abuse – Professional care providers can commit healthcare fraud by not providing proper healthcare but charging for it, overcharging or double billing the patient, over or under medicating the patient, etc.
Sacramento Elder Abuse Attorneys
Although the nursing home industry is intended to provide a caring, nurturing environment for individuals in their golden years, some facilities are motivated more by profit than by proper patient care, so abuses occur. State and federal laws protect nursing home and assisted living facility residents and, with the help of a skilled attorney, nursing home abuse victims or survivors may be able to hold negligent nursing homes accountable and be compensated for their injuries and loss. York Law Firm features a team of experienced nursing home abuse attorneys. Our elder abuse lawyers serve Sacramento, Roseville, Elk Grove, Folsom, Fairfield and the surrounding locations. We have been successful in obtaining millions of dollars on behalf of nursing home abuse victims.
General Information on Nursing Home and Elder Abuse and Neglect
The attorneys at York Law Firm specialize in cases of nursing home abuse and neglect. We are premier Sacramento Elder Abuse Lawyers. We are proud to have achieved the first nursing home neglect case that went to trial in Sacramento County for a $3 million jury verdict on behalf of an 84 year old female nursing home client for multiple pressure sores resulting in a below the knee amputation. We think it’s important that our clients have a thorough understanding of nursing home abuse and neglect, so we have provided you with detailed information. Feel free to browse any of the following topics:
Types of Elder Care Facilities
If your loved one is having trouble taking care of him or herself or is no longer self-sufficient, an elder care facility may be a viable option. There are several different types of eldercare facilities. Among the most common are assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Assisted living facilities:
Assisted living facilities, also known as residential care facilities, are housing options for elderly individuals who do not yet need nursing home care but can no longer live independently. Residents who live in assisted living facilities are not allowed to live on their own but do not require constant care and supervision.
Nursing homes are another option. Nursing homes are appropriate for individuals who can no longer take care of themselves and require 24 hour care. Nursing home employees care for residents on a daily basis, helping them perform daily activities such as using the restroom, bathing and eating. Residents who live in nursing homes are typically elderly, disabled, or ill.
For elders who are minimally self-sufficient and only need assistance in daily activities, in-home nurses can provide such assistance. In-home nurses go to the home of the elder to assist him or her on a daily basis but only for several hour increments, or as long as necessary.
Adult day care:
Adult day care is a final option. It includes programs, services and facilities designed to assist elders who are either mentally or physically impaired. Adult day care allows respite workers to provide relief to daily caregivers of the impaired elder by taking care of the elder for specified amounts of time.
Who can sue for Elder Abuse or Neglect?
Nursing home and assisted living facility abuse and neglect is a form of abuse known as “elder abuse.” The term seemingly only applies to elders, but it actually applies to both elders and dependent adults. Elders are any individuals 65 years or older. Dependent adults are any persons between the ages of 16 and 64 who have physical or mental limitations that restrict his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her own rights. “Dependent adults” also apply to individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 who are admitted into a 24 hour health care facility. Therefore, any person who is considered either an elder or dependent adult who is abused or neglected in a nursing home or assisted living facility can bring a claim for the abuse. Of course, family members can file a claim on behalf of the elder or dependent adult.
Classic Signs and Injuries of Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect
All too often, elders in nursing homes are experiencing some form of neglect or abuse. Abuse of any kind is both morally reprehensible and illegal. Both Federal and State laws were enacted to prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. There are six Classic Signs and Injuries of Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect.
Physical abuse is the use of force against an elderly person that results in the infliction of physical pain or impairment upon the elder. Aside from common forms of physical abuse such as hitting or beating the patient, it can also include giving the patient too much medication or depriving the patient of essential and basic needs such as food.
Emotional abuse can be achieved in two ways: verbal or nonverbal. Verbal emotional abuse is when the caregiver speaks to an elderly in a demoralizing manner which causes the elder emotional distress. It can include words of intimidation, threats, or subjecting the elder to humiliation. Nonverbal emotional abuse is when the caregiver treats the elder so poorly that it causes him or her severe emotional distress. It need not be coupled with verbal threats. Basic examples include ignoring the older individual, terrorizing her, or isolating her.
Sexual abuse is nonconsensual contact of any kind with an elder, including, but not limited to, showing the elder pornographic images, forcing the elder to perform sexual acts, rape, forcing the elder to undress, etc.
Neglect/Abandonment of Caregivers:
In general, elder neglect is when the caregiver fails to fulfill her obligation to care for the elder. Neglect usually includes failing to provide the elder basic life necessities or services, such as food, shelter, healthcare, nursing services or protection.
Financial or Exploitative Abuse:
– Financial or exploitative abuse is the illegal taking of the elderly person’s funds or property. This typically occurs when a relative, friend, or caregiver gains the elder’s trust for the purpose of having the elder transfer his or her savings to the relative, friend, or caregiver. All too often, however, the person who is entrusted exploits this trust by using the elder’s money for personal use and depleting the elder of her financial resources.
Healthcare Fraud and Abuse:
Professional care providers can commit healthcare fraud by not providing proper healthcare but charging for it, overcharging or double billing the patient, or over or under medicating the patient.
What are warning signs of elder abuse?
Although any one sign does not necessarily mean an elder is being abused, there are some warning signs which may indicate neglect or abuse. They are:
- Bruises, burns, abrasions, pressure marks, broken bones, neglect, or mistreatment
- Bruises around the breast or genital area resulting from sexual abuse
- Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden and unexplained change in disposition and depression can indicate emotional abuse.
- A sudden unexplained change in financial situation resulting from exploitation
- Bed sores, poor hygiene, unusual weight loss and unattended medical needs may indicate neglect
- Fractures from falls
Wrongful Death from Elder and Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
To lose a family member is devastating; to lose a loved one prematurely is especially heartbreaking.
Death resulting from an avoidable harm, either by wrongful conduct or gross negligence, is called “wrongful death.” In legal terms, it is known as a preventable death. This means that if the responsible party had acted as a reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances, the death would not have occurred. In elder or nursing home abuse and neglect cases, it occurs when the elderly patient dies as a result of neglect, abuse or inadequate treatment or care.
We at York Law Firm understand your grief and offer our deepest condolences for your loss. We understand that wrongful death cases are the most tragic because the death of your loved one could have been avoided. Accordingly, we offer our legal expertise to help you cope with your loss and obtain justice.
In wrongful death cases resulting from gross negligence, the next of kin and the decedent’s estate may bring a civil action against the negligent actor to recover damages. “Next of kin” includes direct family members, such as the husband, wife, domestic partner, children, parents or siblings of the decedent. They can recover economic damages such as medical bills, funeral expenses and loss of income from the decedent, non-economic damages such as compensation for physical injuries and harms, as well as pain, emotional distress and mental anguish resulting from decedent’s wrongful death.
Elder and Nursing Home Abuse Resources
If you know or suspect elder abuse or neglect, you can report the signs of bad care to the state licensing office in your state that licenses and regulates nursing homes. In California, contact the California Department of Public Health at (800) 236-9747, or you can fill out a formal complaint online. You can also contact the State Department of Social Services at (916) 445-6951 in addition to the local and county adult protective service department. Each state has its own Adult Protective Service Agency to help elder adults (65 years and older) and dependent adults (18-64 who are disabled) when they are victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation or are unable to meet their own needs. Contact your county hotline to report instances of abuse. For more information, feel free to visit the California Department of Public Health website.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) provides current and accurate information regarding nursing homes in your area, statistics and research regarding elder abuse and neglect and various hotline numbers for reporting elder abuse and neglect based on your region. To learn more about NCEA, visit their website.
You can also visit www.carepathways.com, which provides a directory listing of various nursing homes based on region and includes the facility’s ranking and rating.
What to do if you Suspect an Elderly Loved One is Being Abused
Elder abuse is not only egregious, it is against the law. If you suspect your loved one is being abused, it is important to document instances of abuse or neglect. Photographic evidence of neglect, unsanitary conditions, bed sores or indications of physical abuse are helpful to document instances of abuse or neglect. If there has been physical abuse, contact your local authorities immediately.
In any case of abuse, neglect, or fraud, be sure to contact the State Department of Health Services’ nursing home complaint division at 1-800-236-9747, or you can visit the DHS website for more information. You can also contact the State Department of Social Services at (916) 445-6951 in addition to the local and county adult protective service department.
Causes of Elder Abuse
The main cause of elder abuse in nursing homes stems from staffing problems. Most nursing home employees are overworked, underpaid, undertrained, and many nursing home facilities are understaffed. The culmination of chronically understaffed or untrained staffing problems results in cases of neglect and abuse among nursing home patients.
Although the nursing home industry is intended to provide a caring, nurturing environment for individuals in their golden years, the nursing home industry has historically put profit over people. These nursing facilities do not hire enough people, or hire people who are unqualified or untrained for their positions in order to yield a profit. This is done at the patient’s expense and often results in cases of abuse or neglect of one of our most vulnerable segments of our community – our elderly. Problems with nursing home facilities are exacerbated due to insufficient training, which increases the likelihood of negligence and abuse. Because the elderly who endure such neglect and abuse suffer from mental or physical impairment, they often cannot adequately communicate instances of abuse, allowing the cycle of abuse and neglect to perpetuate.
Elder and Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
General Statistics –
- While national statistics on elder abuse are currently not recorded, in 2004 the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimated a 19.7 percent increase in the total reports of elder abuse and neglect and a 15.6 percent increase substantiated cases since the last survey was conducted four years prior. They also found that 1 to 2 million elders have been “injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated.” Of these, however, the NCEA believes that only 1 in 14 elder abuse incidents are reported to authorities.
- The United States General Accounting Office reported in 1998 that one in three nursing homes was cited for serious or potentially life-threatening care problems.
- The U.S. Congress Committee on Government Reform (USCCGR) reported in 1999 that of the 439 nursing homes in Los Angeles County, only one was in total compliance with federal standards of care.
- The USCCGR reported in 2000 that only 19 of 288 nursing homes in San Francisco Bay Area were in full or substantial compliance with federal standards of care.
- The USCCGR reported in 2001 that all 27 of the nursing homes in the 22nd Congressional District (Santa Barbara) violated federal health and safety standards.
Federal Laws Protecting the Elderly
Both federal and state laws regulate elder abuse and neglect. In response to policymakers’ concern regarding a lack of community and social services for older individuals, Congress passed The Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965. The Act established authority for grants to States for research and development projects, community planning and social services and personnel training in the field of aging. Currently, the OAA is a primary vehicle for the efficient delivery of nutritious meals to older individuals. The passage of the act was instrumental in encouraging state laws to address the needs and concerns of the elderly. In addition, the law also established the Administration on Aging (AoA) both to administer the grant programs and to serve as the Federal regulatory system which primarily focuses on matters concerning older individuals.
Nursing home law in particular is governed by the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA). The NHRA is a set of laws that establish the respective standards of care for assisted living facilities and nursing homes. The main purpose of the act is to ensure quality care in nursing homes by protecting elders from neglect, abuse and mistreatment. The NHRA establishes the following rights for nursing home residents:
- The right to freedom from abuse, mistreatment and neglect;
- The right to privacy;
- The right to freedom from physical and chemical restraints;
- The right to communicate freely;
- The right to accommodation of medical, physical, psychological and social needs;
- The right to be treated with dignity;
- The right to participate in resident and family groups;
- The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal; and
- The right to participate in the review of one’s care plan, and to be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or change in status in the facility.
The NHRA further requires that certain services must be provided to residents in nursing homes, including:
- Access to nursing services;
- Access to social services;
- Access to pharmaceutical services;
- Access to rehabilitation service;
- Periodic assessment of all residents;
- Individual care plans for each resident;
- Adequate nutritional and dietary services; and
- In facilities with more than 120 beds, access to a full-time social worker.
Failing to meet any of the above requirements can result in loss of government funding for these facilities.
Our Track Record of Success
York Law Firm’s Experience with Elder and Nursing Home Abuse Cases
York Law Firm has recovered millions of dollars for our clients in cases of elder abuse and neglect, holding responsible nursing homes and assisted living facilities accountable for their wrongful actions. Our successful verdicts and settlements are simply too numerous to list; however, here is a small sample of some of our most notable cases in the Sacramento area.
- We are proud to have achieved the first nursing home neglect case that went to trial in Sacramento County for a $3 million jury verdict on behalf of an 84 year old female nursing home client for multiple pressure sores resulting in a below the knee amputation.
- Confidential settlement resolution on behalf of a mentally disabled 42 year old male nursing home client for dependent adult abuse against a nursing facility based upon sexual assaults by other male residents and the facility’s failure to protect him from sexual assaults.
- Multiple $1 million insurance policy limits for elder abuse/neglect.
- Confidential settlement for elder neglect against a nursing home on behalf of a 90 year old female nursing home client who was killed due to the asphyxiation caused by the nursing home’s use of improper physical restraints.
- $1 million insurance policy limit settlement for elder neglect/abuse against a Roseville assisted living facility on behalf of an 80 year old man based on the facility’s failure to supervise and protect the elder who sustained between 2-3 dozen falls, resulting in serious head injuries (subdural hematoma) and died following surgery. The facility staff also failed to keep him clean, as he was left sitting in his feces on several occasions, and staff teased him about his genitalia.
- $885,000 settlement on behalf of an 80 year old woman who was prescribed lethal doses of Xanax and Restoril (anti-psychotic drugs).
- Confidential settlement against a nursing home for an 84 year old female client who suffered severe dehydration, leading to critical hypernatremia, a stage 4 pressure sore and sepsis, all of which led to her premature death.
- Confidential settlement of elder neglect case against a residential care facility for a serious fall caused by dangerous premises, leading to the death of an 85 year old woman. She also suffered from dehydration, multiple pressure sores and multiple infections.
- Confidential settlement of an elder neglect/abuse case against a nursing facility on behalf of a 90 year old female nursing home client based upon the facility’s failure to protect her from falls, then left her with a fractured femur for three days before seeking medical attention. The facility also failed to notify the family of their mother’s injuries and fall.
Contact Our Sacramento Elder Abuse Lawyers
If your loved one has been a victim of any of the above listed forms of abuse or neglect, York Law Firm can help you as a Sacramento Elder Abuse Lawyer. Our Sacramento Elder Abuse Attorney's specialize in prosecuting cases of elder abuse and neglect and have been greatly successful in holding responsible parties accountable. The underlying mission of York Law Firm is simple: to help represent those who cannot adequately represent themselves. We invite you to contact our office for a free elder abuse case evaluation.
Sacramento Elder Abuse Lawyer Help, Call 800-939-1832
- Legal considerations for nursing home and elder abuse
- Filing an Elder and Nursing Home Abuse Claim
- Types of Damages – Nursing Home and Elder Abuse
- Recovering Damages and Representing Elders
- Elder and Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits
- Types of Nursing Home and Elder Abuse and Neglect
Let the York Law Firm Sacramento Elder Abuse Attorneys assist you with your case! Call us Today 800-939-1832