Articles Tagged with california elder abuse lawyer

parker-byrd-139348-copy-300x200A new website, Choose Well, is trying to help families in San Diego find safe and quality nursing homes for their loved ones. After seniors lost their lives in negligent assisted-living facilities and a San Diego Union-Tribune investigation uncovered a significant amount of neglect and abuse in area nursing homes, San Diego County decided it was time to do something. This website is the city’s attempt to be more proactive about protecting seniors and helping their families make difficult choices like putting their elderly loved ones into nursing homes.   

San Diego Union-Tribune Investigation

In 2013, an in-depth investigation by San Diego Union-Tribune found that at least 27 seniors had died in San Diego County facilities due to neglect in a five-year period. The investigation found substandard care, neglect, and abuse ran rampant because of poor state oversight and little-to-no public transparency. When residents die due to neglect or abuse, facilities might face an investigation and a minimal fine. However, in many cases, state authorities never investigated. In fact, the Union-Tribune found that in the five-year period, complaints of poor care rose 13%, yet the number of state penalties declined 30%.

milind-kaduskar-87650-copy-300x300Certain areas of the U.S., particularly the west coast and southwest, are known for their high temperatures. Temperatures can stay in the 90s and 100s for weeks or months at a time. Unfortunately, this excessive heat has already led to fatalities this year. Santa Clara County officials confirmed in June that two elderly residents passed away due to hyperthermia, which is the condition of the body’s internal temperature becoming too high and the body being unable to cool itself down.

Elderly individuals, meaning those over the age of 60, are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses and death. As summer fully sets in and California experiences very high temperatures, it is crucial that individuals and facilities take extra precautions to protect seniors from the heat.

Elderly are Particularly Vulnerable to Heat-Related Illnesses and Death

cristian-newman-63291-199x300When you have elderly parents in nursing homes, it can be difficult to monitor their health and safety. You are not around every day to ensure that they get enough food and water, are properly bathed, receive their medications, and are not neglected or abused. You may not even be able to see your loved ones each week if you live far away. This can enable nursing home staff and others to take advantage of your parent’s situation, either neglecting to give them the care they need or emotionally, physically, or sexually abusing them. If you have begun to notice signs of abuse when you visit, you are probably wondering what you should do. Where do you turn when the people who are supposed to care for your loved ones are harming them?

If you suspect your elderly mother or father is being abused at their care facility, take the following steps:

  • Speak with a facility administrator: If you believe something is wrong, you need to speak with the management of the facility as soon as possible. This is the best time to gauge their reaction and take careful note of how they try to rectify – or explain away – the situation. If you see no changes in the following days or weeks, move head through more formal channels.

christian-langballe-78684-copy-300x200Elderly individuals in California often become isolated over time. As family members and friends pass away, become less mobile, or move away, older individuals may find themselves living alone with few, if any, people to interact with. This isolation can lead to significant mental and physical ailments and puts individuals at risk for neglect and abuse by caretakers and financial scams. Fighting elderly isolation is essential in improving older individual’s health as well as protecting them from neglect and abuse.

Many of California’s Elderly Live in Isolation

It is not simply that we think elderly individuals are more likely to suffer mental health issues or additional physical medical problems, it is a statistical fact. Research conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, found that 18% of seniors in the state live alone and 43% reported feeling lonely on a regular basis. The same study found older individuals who reported feeling lonely had an increased risk of death by 45% and isolated elderly had a 59% higher risk of mental and physical decline compared to more social older individuals. Physicians across the state regularly witness the negative effects of isolation, which greatly contribute to an early death.

taduuda-76960-copy-300x200Three Sonoma County contractors are facing up to 50 felony and misdemeanor charges after an investigation led by the California Contractors State License Board found they were scamming customers. Some of the charges include grand theft, burglary, diversion of construction funds, conspiracy, and elder abuse.

Contractors Took Advantage of Clients

Tony Joseph Goodwin and Samuel Williams of Goodwin Millworks are accused of taking advantage of private consumers and non-profit organizations that house citizens with developmental disabilities. They are accused of unlawfully obtaining about $566,000 from their victims. The non-profits paid more than $460,000 for work on two different homes, which were abandoned by the contractors. They then had to pay an additional $685,000 to another contractor to complete the unfinished work.

daniel-frank-201417-300x200Under House Bill 1215, introduced in February 2017 by Rep. Steve King, R-IA, there would be a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages for civil malpractice cases involving elderly and dependent adults. While California has a similar cap, it does not apply to lawsuits involving negligence and abuse toward the elderly and dependent adults. Lawmakers stress that the bill is intended to reduce healthcare costs and increase access to healthcare – it is even named “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017.” Since the federal government is adversely affected by malpractice lawsuits for individuals insured through Medicare, legislators estimate it could save the government $62 billion in the next 10 years. However, many healthcare providers and attorneys feel this law would take away a crucial protection against elder abuse and interfere with state’s rights.

Elder Protection Issues in HR 1215

As David R. Cohen of Stark and Stark pointed out, civil lawsuits are one of the only ways elderly individuals and their families have to recover after an elderly person or dependent adult is significantly injured or killed due to negligent, reckless, or intentionally harmful medical care. Civil cases enable victims and their families to be reimbursed for their expenses and compensated for their pain and suffering, which can be severe in elder abuse situations. These civil cases also serve to make fraud in nursing homes and other care organizations known to the public, increase accountability, and improve the quality of care adults receive.

b3ims-0adiw-frantzou-fleurine-300x140Financial elder abuse comes in many different forms, yet it often has the underlying element of undue influence exerted by a person over an elderly individual. During financially abusive situations, this undue influence results in a family member, caretaker, friend, or stranger unlawfully gaining money, real estate, personal property, or other assets from a senior. These circumstances are not only morally wrong, they are also illegal. Financial elder abuse can lead to both civil and criminal charges against the perpetrators.

Undue Influence under California Law

California’s Welfare and Institutions Code §15610.70 defines undue influence. It is excessive persuasion that causes an individual to act or not to act by overcoming that individual’s free will, resulting in inequity.

cristian-newman-63291-199x300Katherine Jackson, 86, the mother of famous siblings Michael and Janet Jackson, came forward earlier this year claiming that her nephew, Trent Lamar Jackson, had been financially and emotionally abusing her for years. According to documents filed in court for a restraining order, Mrs. Jackson stated that Trent made himself the custodian over her care and was employed as her driver. She heavily relied on him, yet Trent would refuse to take her home, would not drive her unless she met his demands, isolated her from other family members to exert undue influence on her, and did all of this to control her finances and live in her guest house for free. Trent’s psychological abuse confused Mrs. Jackson and caused her angst, fear, and depression. The documents also claim that Trent accessed Mrs. Jackson’s bank accounts and used her credit cards for his own purchases without her permission.

Mrs. Jackson was granted a temporary restraining order against her nephew, who is not allowed within 100 yards of her or within the gated community where she lives. Trent is required to move out of Mrs. Jackson’s home and return all keys, passwords, and combinations to the property. A hearing for a permanent restraining order is set for March 1.

Accusations of elder abuse like this are taken seriously by California courts. Physical, emotional, and financial abuse of individuals over the age of 65 can lead to civil lawsuits and criminal charges.

b3ims-0adiw-frantzou-fleurine-300x140Elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation are growing concerns across the U.S., and unfortunately, not all states are working to reduce the occurrence of these issues. In December 2016, WalletHub released a study of each state’s and the District of Columbia’s elder abuse protections and ranked state’s and D.C.’s efforts. Overall, California ranked 49 out of 51, which means only two other states have made a poorer effort to protect its elderly citizens.

Since California’s laws and infrastructure do not provide an abundance of elder abuse protection, it is up to you to keep a close eye on your loved ones living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. If you believe your family member or friend is being abused by someone or neglected, contact an experienced San Francisco elder abuse attorney at Brod Law Firm as soon as possible.

How the States and D.C. Were Ranked