California Elder Abuse Law
California state law provides for criminal and civil liability against individual abusers and the nursing homes themselves under the Elder Abuse and Dependant Adult Civil Protection Act. This law forbids physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, isolation, or any other treatment which results in harm, pain or mental suffering. The deprivation of necessary goods and services by a nursing home may also constitute elder abuse.
As mentioned above, the law provides victims of abuse with the right to file a civil lawsuit against their abusers and recover money damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Victims can also recover their attorney’s fees and costs from the defendants if it can be shown that the abuse was perpetrated with recklessness, oppression, fraud, or malice. In some of these instances, punitive damages may be appropriately awarded as well.
How to Spot Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Victims of nursing home abuse or neglect are often not able to speak up for themselves, whether due to intimidation and fear of reprisals or because they lack the physical or mental capacity to communicate effectively. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it is important to understand some of the signs of abuse and know what steps to take if you observe them.
Signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse or neglect can include:
- Unexplained cuts, bruises, sprains or broken bones
- Welts or bruises around the wrists, ankles or upper arms
- Unexplained weight loss
- Confusion or disorientation
- Exhibiting a general sense of fear or nervousness
If You Suspect Abuse
To complicate matters, many of the above symptoms can be explained away as caused by the patient through their own accidents, or simply as the signs of normal aging. However, any signs of potential abuse should be reported immediately to the nursing staff or supervisor and documented. If you continue to see a pattern of repeated abuse, you should contact the proper authorities, such as the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse. You may also wish to contact an attorney experienced in nursing home abuse and neglect matters. With the power to initiate litigation and other legal action, we may be able to move more swiftly to end abuse than the government bureaucracies sometimes can. If you have been a victim of abuse, or if you suspect abuse of a family member in a nursing home in Los Angeles or San Bernardino County, contact Pisegna & Zimmerman for a free consultation about the steps you can take to end the abuse.