Learning More About California’s Elder Neglect Laws

file3451272140532We often discuss cases of nursing home abuse and neglect in San Diego, and in facilities throughout the state of California. But when we talk about filing an elder abuse or neglect lawsuit, what exactly do we mean? In other words, what elements must be present in order to have a valid elder neglect claim? To better understand how suspicions of nursing home abuse or neglect can result in a lawsuit, we should take a closer look at both the signs of neglect, as well as the elements of the laws that prohibit it.

Recognizing Signs of Elder Neglect

Before we look at the specific elements of neglect and abuse outlined by the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, we should take a look at the signs and symptoms of neglect and physical abuse. A fact sheet from the Administration on Aging (AoA) lists the following as signs and symptoms of elder neglect:

  • Lacking basic hygiene;
  • Lacking appropriate clothing;
  • Lacking food;
  • Lacking medical aids, such as glasses, hearing aid, or medications;
  • Lack of supervision for elderly adults with dementia;
  • Lack of attention for elder confined to a bed;
  • Cluttered home, or a living space that is dirty or in varying states of disrepair;
  • Home without adequate facilities, such as a stove, refrigerator, electricity, or heating/cooling system; and/or
  • Presence of bed sores.

Understanding How the Law Approaches Elder Neglect Cases

Now, if you believe that an elderly loved one has been the victim of elder neglect, how will the law see your case? Elder abuse and neglect laws are governed by Section 15600 of the California Welfare & Institutions Code. Section 15610 identifies the factual elements of neglect (as well as other forms of recognized elder abuse in California).

For a jury to find that a defendant is guilty of elder neglect, what elements must exist? According to Section 15610.57, a plaintiff must be able to prove the following:

  • The defendant had care of the elderly plaintiff;
  • The plaintiff was 65 or older at the time she was in the defendant’s care;
  • The defendant failed to use the degree of care that a reasonable person would have exercised by failing to do one of the following:
    • Assisting the elderly plaintiff with personal hygiene;
    • Assisting the elderly plaintiff with the provision of food, clothing, or shelter;
    • Providing medical care;
    • Protecting the elderly plaintiff from certain health and safety hazards;
    • Preventing malnutrition or dehydration; or
    • Other potential grounds for neglect.
  • The elderly plaintiff suffered an injury as a result of the defendant’s failure to provide a reasonable degree of care; and
  • The defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in the elderly plaintiff’s injury.

As you can see, the elements of neglect outlined by Section 15610.57 of the Welfare & Institutions Code bear many similarities to the signs and symptoms of neglect outlined by the AoA. Taking a closer look at the law, in connection with common signs of nursing home neglect, can help to demonstrate just how important it is to seek legal advice when you suspect that an elderly loved one is not receiving proper treatment.

Contact a San Diego Nursing Home Neglect Attorney

Nursing home neglect is not the only offense that exists under the California Welfare & Institutions Code. Indeed, the laws in our state cover many forms of elder abuse. If you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety or have questions about filing an elder abuse lawsuit, an experienced San Diego nursing home neglect lawyer can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.

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See Related Blog Posts:

Reexamining California’s Nursing Home Quality

Nursing Home Evictions and Elder Abuse in California