Understanding Elder Abuse in San Diego
The elder community in the county of San Diego is experiencing a rise in violation of human rights. Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.27 identifies an elder as any person who resides in the state of California and is 65 years of age or older. Given the senior citizens’ age, their declining physical health and mental capacity makes this class of individuals clear targets for abusers. In order to protect this vulnerable class of individuals from mistreatment, the California legislators enacted the Elder Abuse and Adult Civil Protection Act to govern civil actions for elder abuse. Pursuant to the Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.07 elder abuse consists of physical mistreatment, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, treatment resulting in physical harm or pain or mental suffering or deprivation of necessary goods and services by a designated custodian. A designated custodian is a person or entity that has custody or has been charged with caring for the elderly person. It is important to point out that civil liability will be imposed upon any individual who intentionally or recklessly causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an elderly person.
However, only a designated custodian may be civilly liable for harm caused by the neglect of an elderly person. The burden of proof in an elder abuse case is on the elderly victim’s plaintiff attorney to establish that the defendant is liable for the harm caused by the defendant’s abuse. The victim’s plaintiff attorney must prove the defendant’s fault by clear and convincing evidence in order for the elderly to receive the legal remedies entitled under the Elder Abuse Adult Civil Protection Act. Clear and convincing evidence is the highest evidentiary standard in civil law; it means that the victim’s plaintiff attorney is required to prove that it is substantially more likely to be true that the defendant abused the elderly person than not true. The complexities in elder abuse legislation are many, you will need a knowledgeable civil attorney who specializes in elder abuse cases and has a vast understanding of the Elder Abuse and Adult Civil Protection Act. At the San Diego Injury Law Office, we have worked hard to master our understanding of elder abuse legislation and dedicated our personal injury practice to protecting our elder community by holding abusers accountable for their despicable acts and ensuring their victims’ rights to recovery. If you have any suspicions that an elderly person may be a victim of abuse, do not wait until it is too late, we urge you to protect your loved one by contacting our elder abuse firm at (619) 343-2992 for a free consultation.
Categories of Elder Abuse
At the San Diego Injury Law Office, our vast experience representing countless elder abuse victims has taught us that elder abuse manifests itself in different forms of mistreatment. There are four main categories of abuse that senior citizens are typically exposed to: physical, emotional, neglect and financial abuse. Our responsibility is to help you understand how these four categories are determined by the abuser’s chosen method of mistreatment and the harm caused to the elderly victim. Physical abuse is defined by the Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.63 as any physical or sexual assault or battery, unreasonable physical constraint, prolonged deprivation of food or water, or use of a physical or chemical restraint as a form of punishment. When any of these methods of abuse are physically inflicted on an elder, the mistreatment will result in risk of bodily harm and physical pain to the elderly victim. Emotional abuse is the infliction of psychological mistreatment through control, harassment, intimidation, belittling, manipulation, threats or other derogative attacks. When a person commits emotional verbal or nonverbal abuse of an elder, this causes psychological harm and emotional pain. Neglect as defined by the Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.57 is the failure of a designated custodian to assist in the elder’s personal hygiene, provision of food, clothing, or shelter, to provide medical care required for the elder’s physical and mental health, or to protect the elderly person from health and safety hazards. Whenever a designated custodian is negligent in the care of the elder, the elder is at risk of physical harm and mental suffering for the deprivation of necessary goods. Financial abuse is defined by the Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.30 as committing or assisting in the commission of the taking secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining of an elder’s property for wrongful use or with the intent to defraud or both. The wrongful use of the elderly person’s property will be determined by the abuser’s awareness that his conduct was likely to result in harm to the elderly person. In other words, when the person responsible for the financial abuse knew or should have known that his conduct would likely result in the deprivation of the elderly person’s property. At the San Diego Injury Law Office, we realize that understanding the different categories of elder abuse is only helpful to the extent that you can actually recognize the warning signs of abuse that your loved one may be displaying. Give us a call now at (619) 343-2992 so we help you understand the harm associated with each category of elder abuse and identify the warning signs that may be present in your particular case.
Warning Signs of Elder Abuse
Usually, it is difficult for family members to recognize elder abuse is taking place because it is hard for them to think of their loved one as a victim. They would rather hold on to the notion that their loved one is still the strong, smart, capable, independent adult that they have always revered. However, the cruel reality is that our elder community is being targeted because their age makes them vulnerable for abuse. Generally, a person at the age of 65 years old begins experiencing mental deterioration and a decline in physical health, which ultimately leads the elder to become dependent on others, leaving the elder susceptible to abuse. Oftentimes elder abuse goes on undetected because family members mistakenly attribute the elder’s manifestations of abuse to the natural effects of aging. The key to identifying elder abuse is to distinguish the physical, psychological, and behavioral manifestations of the victim’s injury in order to correctly attribute them to the harm associated with each category of elder abuse. For example, in physical elder abuse cases you want to look out for the victim’s physical manifestations like unexplained bruises, scars, or infections but you also be aware of the victim’s psychological manifestations of shame, anger, or fear. In emotional elder abuse cases, you want to notice the psychological manifestations in the victim’s character, like anxiety, shame or apathy and be aware of any behavioral changes that take place, like sudden violent tendencies, loss of communication skills, or regressive behaviors. In elder neglect cases, you should remain vigilant of physical manifestations of poor hygiene, malnutrition, or untreated infections, and recognize the behavioral manifestations of withdrawn conduct, dissociation, or loss of motor skills. When it comes to cases of financial elder abuse, pay particularly close attention to psychological manifestations of agitation, depression, or confusion and any changes in the victim’s conduct, like sudden difficulty paying bills, increased spending habits, or unexplained cash transactions. If you are concerned that a loved one may be displaying any of these manifestations of elder abuse do not leave them unprotected, you need an experienced elder abuse law firm to ensure that the victim’s abuse is detected! Let us help you identify and put a stop to your loved one’s suffering, call (619) 343-2992 now, our elder abuse legal specialists are standing by to determine the merits of your case!
Damages for Victims of Elder Abuse
Our elder community is constantly a victim of abuse because as people get older, their physical ailments and declining mental health forces them to become physically, emotionally and economically dependent on others. California’s Elder Abuse and Adult Civil Protection Act safeguards an elderly person’s right to live a life free of physical abuse, emotional trauma, physical and psychological neglect and financial abuse by imposing civil liability for elder abuse. This means that an elderly person who has been victimized by any of these forms of abuse may file a claim in civil court to hold their abuser accountable and recover civil remedies from them in the form of damages. The Elder Abuse and Adult Civil Protection Act also provides the survivors of elderly victims who died at the hands of their abusers the right to recover postmortem any personal injury damages that the deceased was entitled to. Damages are the monetary compensation that elderly victims may be awarded from the jury for the abuse they endured. There are two types of damages available in elder abuse cases; compensatory damages which account for the elderly victim’s actual loss and punitive damages which account for the deplorability of the abuser’s wrongdoing. Compensatory damages will measure the actual loss to the elderly victim by accounting for any pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, severity of the injury and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. In order to obtain compensatory damages, the victim’s plaintiff attorney must establish the abuse by clear and convincing evidence. At the San Diego Injury Law Office, our experienced elder abuse attorneys count on a team of legal, medical, psychology, financial and behavioral experts to identify the elderly victim’s injury and prove that it is substantially more likely to be true than not true that the defendant abused your loved one. To establish punitive damages in an elder abuse case, the victim’s plaintiff attorney must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant committed the abuse with malice, fraud, or oppression. At the San Diego Injury Law Office, our elder abuse specialists will assess the severity of your loved ones’ injury and evaluate their physical, mental, emotional, and financial capacity to prove that it is substantially more likely to be true than not true that the defendant knew of your loved one’s limitations and acted intentionally, with a reckless disregard, or with cruelty to take advantage of your loved one’s vulnerabilities. Elderly people have a basic human right to be treated with respect and to live out the rest of their lives with dignity. When these essential rights are violated, your loved one deserves the legal representation of a tough elder abuse attorney who will hold the abuser accountable by providing the jury an accurate depiction of the abuse the elderly victim endured at the hands of the defendant. At the San Diego Injury Law Office, our goal is to ensure your loved one’s remaining quality of life by obtaining the maximum amount of damages available from the person who caused all of their suffering!
Statute of Limitations for Elder Abuse Cases
A statute of limitations is the legal deadline for a personal injury victim to file a tort claim in civil court. Generally, an elder abuse victim in the state of California must file a civil lawsuit against their abuser within two years of the abuse. This means that the statute of limitations begins to run on the day the victim’s injury occurred and will expire after two years of that date. It is important for you to understand that if you try to file an elder abuse claim after the statute of limitations has already run, your claim will be summarily dismissed by the court and you will no longer be eligible to receive civil remedies. Unless, you are a victim of elder abuse who cannot bring a claim within the mandated two years because you have experienced mental or physical incapacitation. For these particular victims of elder abuse, the state of California has made an exception to the two-year requirement, allowing the statute of limitations to begin to run at the time the elderly victim discovers or should have discovered the injury. If you believe you may have an elder abuse case, you must act quickly to establish your civil claim. Two years may seem like more than sufficient time to prove your case but the reality is that elder abuse claims require vast amount of research and thorough evaluations before they may be ready to go before the jury. Do not risk the statute of limitations running out and contact our knowledgeable elder abuse civil firm immediately to begin preparing your winning case!
The Most Common Type of Elder Abuse is Physical Abuse and We are Experts in Handling Physical Elder Abuse Personal Injury Cases in San Diego
Understanding Physical Elder Abuse in San Diego
Physical abuse of an elder is the infliction of physical force that results in bodily harm or pain to a person who is 65 years of age or older. Bodily harm consists of both external and internal physical injuries suffered by the victim. External injuries could be pressure marks, bald spots, bruises, abrasions, burns, sprains, dislocations, or fractures. Internal injuries could be a brain injury, internal bleeding, punctured organs, sexually transmitted diseases or infections. In San Diego, physical abuse has become an epidemic in our elder community, as more and more senior citizens are becoming victims of physical assaults, sexual assaults, and abductions. The reason behind this terrible epidemic is the vulnerability of our elder community by virtue of their age; their declining physical and mental health makes this sector of society an easy target for physical abuse. Generally, when people reach the age of 65, they begin having to rely on others to care for them as they start experiencing a loss of mobility, physical strength, cognitive ability and communication skills. It is this dependency that exposes our elder community to physical abuse and leaves elderly victims defenseless against their abuser. In order to protect our elder community from this epidemic in the form of physical abuse, the California legislators enacted the Elder Abuse and Adult Civil Protection Act to provide civil liability for elder abuse and enhanced remedies for elder abuse victims. To establish an elder physical abuse claim in civil court, the victim’s plaintiff attorney will be required to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly when the defendant physically abused the victim who was 65 years of age or older at the time of the defendant’s conduct; that the victim was harmed and that the defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the victim’s harm. As a recognized plaintiff civil law firm, at the San Diego Injury Law Office our elder abuse attorneys have vast experience establishing physical abuse cases. We know that our elderly victims are simply not physically strong enough to confront their abuser and may be too scared of retaliation or ashamed to report the physical abuse. We overcome these common obstacles by working with a team of physical health, mental health, and behavioral experts to gather all of the evidence that we will need to stand up to the abuser and provide a voice for the abused! If you are worried that an elderly person may be a victim of physical abuse, do not wait to confirm your suspicions while your loved one continues suffering silently at the hand of their abuser! You need to protect them immediately by calling our elder physical abuse experts at (619) 343-2992 to set up a free consultation today.
Identifying Physical Abuse
We begin our legal representation by helping the elderly victim’s family members identify the specific type of physical abuse that is happening to their loved one. One would think that the physical nature of the harm alone, would make the physical abuse of an elder easy to detect. However, the reality is that oftentimes the elderly victim’s physical and psychological manifestations of abuse are mistakenly attributed to the characteristics that are inherent to an elderly person’s deteriorating physical ability and mental capacity. For example, when elderly victims of physical abuse begin having frequent accidents, repeatedly falling or bumping into things, and cannot seem to recall how, when, where, and why the injury occurred; their loved ones interpret these manifestations of physical abuse as frailty, loss of balance, and dementia brought on by old age. As an unintended consequence, the physical abuse of your loved one continues to go unnoticed. Do not assume that your loved one’s unexplained injuries are a product of their old age and recognize that the elderly person’s silence is out of shame and fear of retaliation by their abuser. Your loved one’s abuser is counting on you to make this mistake, do not give that person the chance to continue taking advantage of your senior citizens’ physical vulnerabilities. You need to be able to distinguish the elderly victim’s manifestations of physical abuse from the normal side effects of aging. The best way to do this is to recognize the elderly victim’s behavioral manifestations of physical abuse. You want to be aware of any sudden changes in the senior citizen’s behavior, look out for aggressive tendencies, like biting, kicking or hitting people or signs of regressive conduct, like sucking their thumb, nail biting, wetting the bed, throwing temper tantrums. When these behavior patterns appear in connection with the physical and psychological manifestations of physical abuse you must act quickly to ensure that your loved one is safe! Call the San Diego Injury Law Office now at (619) 343-2992 so that our elder abuse specialists may set up a time to meet with you to learn about the elder in your life and listen to any concerns that you may have regarding this person’s overall well-being. You do not have to face this alone, let our skilled elder abuse attorneys help you identify, prove and put a stop to the physical abuse of your loved one!
Proving Physical Abuse
In order to hold the abuser civilly liable, we will need to prove the physical abuse by clear and convincing evidence. We start building our case for physical abuse by having our elder abuse specialists conduct interviews of the elderly person and those family members closest to them. As part of the interview, you will be asked questions about the elder’s age, mental capacity, living arrangements, personal relationships, finances, physical and mental health, medical history and treatment. This personal information will help our elder abuse specialists narrow down the type of physical abuse that may be taking place and determine the best approach to earn the elder’s trust in order to establish open communication about the abuser. Rest assured that our legal professionals have been trained to proceed with caution in their approach to identify potential abusers. Throughout the interview process, we will have our behavioral experts assess all of the elderly victim’s interactions with those closest to them and examine the victim’s demeanor during their responses. To establish the defendant’s liability for the victim’s physical abuse, we will have our physical health experts review the elder’s medical history to identify when the physical abuse began and what form of physical abuse the victim has been subjected to. We will use the victim’s medical history of emergency medical visits, bodily harm, and medical treatment received for external and internal physical injuries to show to the jury that it is substantially more likely to be true that the defendant abused the elderly person than not true!
Proving Intentional or Reckless
In order to obtain the enhanced civil remedies available for elderly victims of physical abuse under the Elder Abuse and Adult Civil Protection Act, we will have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant committed the physical abuse with an intentional or reckless mental state. A defendant’s acts intentionally, if the defendant knew or should have known that his conduct would cause the elderly victim harm or serious risk of harm. On the other hand, a defendant’s conduct will be considered reckless if the defendant knew that it was highly probable that his conduct would cause the elderly victim harm and the defendant consciously disregarded the risk of harm to the victim. The best way to determine the defendant’s subjective state of culpability at the time of the abuse is by identifying the defendant’s chosen method of physical abuse. Pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.63, physical abuse is any assault, battery, rape, unreasonable physical constraint, prolonged deprivation of food or water, use of a physical or chemical restraint or psychotropic medication as a form of punishment. In order to prove the defendant’s mental state by clear and convincing evidence, we will have our psychology expert explain to the jury the positive correlation that exists between the method of physical abuse that the defendant chose and the foreseeability of the harm that the elderly victim suffered. For purposes of establishing intent, the defendant’s chosen method of physical abuse makes it more likely to be true that the defendant knew or should have known that his use of physical force would cause the kind of harm that the elderly victim suffered. Whereas to establish recklessness, we will have to show that the defendant’s chosen method of physical abuse represented a high probability of harm to the elderly victim, making it substantially more likely to be true that by electing this method, the defendant consciously disregarded the risk of harm or pain to the victim.
Proving the Victim’s Harm
If you or a loved one are an elderly person who has been subjected to physical abuse, you have a right to recover civil remedies, we just need to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the elderly victim was harmed and that the defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the victim’s harm. We will first prove the elderly victim’s harm by having our medical experts conduct a complete physical and mental evaluation of the senior citizen to assess the victim’s health after surviving the abuse. In the process, our medical experts will evaluate the physical injuries the victim sustained and the emotional pain that they endured. We will prove past harm by having our medical experts review the elderly victim’s medical history to find evidence of emergency visits and medical treatment for bruises, sprains, fractures, burns, internal pain or infections resulting from applying physical pressure or untreated medical conditions. Next, we will prove present harm by having our psychology experts analyze the elderly victim’s overall emotional well-being to find evidence of shock, shame, helplessness, fear, depression, anxiety, resentment, and anger resulting from the oppression of the abuser. In order to establish that the defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the victim’s harm, we must first understand the extent of that harm. By using the timeline provided by our medical experts, our behavioral experts will study the changes in the elderly victim’s behavior during the physical abuse to identify any coping mechanisms that the victim may have employed to survive the abuse. Common coping mechanisms in elder physical abuse cases are regression, displacement, disassociation, and rationalization. The type of coping mechanism used by the elderly victim will provide insight into the defendant’s conduct and help us prove the crucial role the defendant played on causing the victim’s harm. For example, when regressive behavior is detected by diminished communication abilities, nail biting, thumb sucking, temper tantrums and loss of bowel control, these behaviors represent the helplessness the victim feels at the hands of the abuser. Where the physical abuse is so physically and emotionally harmful that the only way for the elderly victim to survive the abuse is to have their mind and body regress to a time in their lives when they felt safe, usually their childhood. Whereas, when an elder becomes unusually moody, starts lashing out, or becomes withdrawn from loved ones these are signs of displacement coping mechanisms. Displacement coping mechanisms represent the fear that the elderly victim has of their abuser, unable to confront the person actually responsible for their physical abuse the victim will transfer all of their feelings of anger and frustration to their loved ones who have nothing to do with the abuse. Disassociation is the elderly victim’s defense mechanism to avoid the reality of the abuse by detaching themselves both physically and emotionally from their surroundings. Lastly, rationalization represents the dependent relationship between the elderly victim and their abuser, where the victim feels so physically and emotionally dependent on the abuser that they prefer to justify the physical abuse and begin blaming themselves for it. Do not let allow your loved one to continue suffering silently, contact the San Diego Injury Law Office so that we may initiate a civil claim against your loved one’s abuser. Our team of physical abuse experts will devote all of our time and resources to hold the abuser accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused the elderly victim!
Contact San Diego Elder Abuse Injury Attorney for a FREE Consultation Today at: (619) 343-2992