Assisted living abuse might lead to criminal offense charges, particularly if it involves adults aged 60 or older or those who have a disability.
If you or a loved one suspects abuse is taking place in an assisted living community, you will want to check your state’s laws to confirm how law enforcement and other authorities handle elder abuse cases.
The need to protect senior adults and people with disabilities from any form of abuse is widely recognized. However, as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) notes, elder abuse laws vary across states and jurisdictions.
Keep in mind that if the assisted living site you are concerned about is in a different state from where you live, the laws regarding the handling of and penalties for abuse cases may differ there.
Recognizing Elder Abuse
The DOJ says addressing elder abuse in all forms is a priority, and it relies on states and local entities to help its mission.
Assisted living communities offer residents the comforts of home while also giving them the space to live on their own. Staff members are on hand to help them with bathing, cooking, housekeeping, errands, taking medications, and other essential tasks as needed.
Not everyone who lives in assisted living has trouble with mobility, toileting, and other needs. However, some do, and there also may be residents whose cognitive abilities are compromised due to dementia. Because of their condition, individuals with dementia may not be able to track their finances or remember if someone abused them, making them vulnerable to mistreatment.
Many trusted staff meet or exceed the standard of care when helping assisted living residents manage their daily lives. However, because abuse is prevalent among older adults, it can happen wherever they are, even in an assisted living environment.
What Constitutes Elder Abuse
Overall, any behavior or condition that harms an individual is abuse. Elder abuse can be:
- Physical Abuse. Harsh, rough treatment that results in pain, injury, or impairment of any kind is physical abuse.
- Sexual abuse. This form of abuse involves any unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact or exposure to sexual content.
- Emotional abuse. Bullying, harassment, degradation, stalking, insults, and threats all constitute emotional abuse. A victim could feel afraid, stressed, or suffer other psychological harm because of mistreatment. Ignoring someone or isolating them also falls in this category.
- Neglect and abandonment. This form of abuse involves intentionally or unintentionally failing to provide essential care for a person who needs it.
- Financial exploitation. Abuse involving the unauthorized or improper use of someone’s money, assets, or property is illegal.
All of the forms of abuse described above are illegal. If you know or suspect that abuse has occurred, report it and follow through with the authorities in your area. You can call the Adult Protective Services (APS) agency or the equivalent in your state or seek help from law enforcement.
If a thorough investigation is done according to your state’s laws, assisted living abuse could be a criminal offense.
Taking Legal Action in Assisted Living Abuse Cases
If you or a loved one is recovering from abuse that occurred while residing in an assisted living facility, you may also be able to take legal action against the facility and other parties to hold them legally accountable.
You can hire a personal injury attorney who can help you investigate the facility to determine what happened and who is responsible. Any evidence you have can give your attorney a place to start in building your case. If you or your attorney can prove the elements of negligence, you could seek to recover financial awards for medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages.
The four elements to prove negligence are:
- Duty of care. This involves proving the facility owed you or your loved one a level of care that is reasonable to expect under the circumstances.
- Breach of duty. This element requires proving that the facility failed to meet its duty, as outlined above.
- Damages. As a result of the breach, you or your loved one suffered damages, such as your injuries, financial losses, and other kinds of losses, if applicable.
- Causation. This requires you to prove that the injuries and losses you or your loved one suffered are directly tied to the damages that stem from the breach.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm wants to help you or your loved one seek justice and financial awards for the losses you endured due to assisted living abuse. We do not shy away from tough cases and believe the defendant should pay for the treatment needed for you to recover, not you.
Call our legal team today for a free consultation at (800) 842-6336. You pay no money up front, so if you decide to hire us, we can get started on your case. We work on a contingency fee basis and take our payment from the settlement you receive if you win your case.