Senior citizens deserve compassionate and reliable care but are often overlooked. Unfortunately, elder abuse is far more common than most people realize.
Danville Elder Abuse Attorney in California
Dedicated Danville Elder Abuse Lawyers in Northern California
Barr & Douds elder abuse attorneys in Danville, California, are dedicated legal professionals with a strong commitment to protecting the rights and well-being of the elderly. With our extensive experience in elder law, we provide invaluable support and guidance to victims of elder abuse and their families.
Understanding the unique challenges faced by older individuals, our firm works diligently to investigate cases, hold responsible parties accountable, and seek justice for our clients. Through compassionate advocacy and a deep understanding of elder abuse laws, Barr & Douds tirelessly strive to ensure that seniors are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, making us a trusted resource for elder abuse victims in the Danville community.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Abuse of the elderly is a serious and growing concern in the state of California. Elder abuse is an “epidemic” that costs seniors $2.9 billion annually, according to Senator Susan Collins, who heads the Senate Special Commission on Aging. Some of the most common examples of elder abuse include:
- Physical abuse such as infliction of physical pain, restraint, or physical control;
- Emotional abuse and mental suffering;
- Neglect or failure to complete obligations to ensure health and well-being;
- Financial exploitation by wrongfully taking the person’s funds or assets;
- Abduction by non-consensually moving the person;
- Isolating or preventing the person from communicating with friends or family;
- Abandonment, defined as the caregivers’ desertion of the person.
Denying care to elderly individuals that would allow them to avoid physical or mental harm also constitutes abuse. Under California state law, administrators and staff at care facilities should work to prevent harm to nursing home residents.
It’s critical to understand the warning signs of mistreatment. With the help of an attorney, you may be able to file an elder abuse lawsuit.
What Is Financial Elder Abuse?
Financial exploitation is one of the most common types of elder abuse. The California Welfare and Institutions Code §15610.30 defines financial elder abuse:
(a) “Financial abuse” of an elder or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity does any of the following:
- Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.
- Assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.
- Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, retains, or assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining, real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult by undue influence, as defined in Section 1575 of the Civil Code.
(b) A person or entity shall be deemed to have taken, secreted, appropriated, obtained, or retained the property for a wrongful use if, among other things, the person or entity takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains the property and the person or entity knew or should have known that this conduct is likely to be harmful to the elder or dependent adult.
Schedule a Consultation with a Danville Elder Abuse Lawyer
California Elder Abuse Laws: The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act
The California state government passed comprehensive legislation to fight elder abuse before almost any other state. In 1982, the CA legislature passed the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act.
This important law allows for civil recourse in response to many different types of elder abuse. Some of the wrongful actions that can result in an elder abuse case include physical harm, financial abuse, and neglect.
Under this legislation, certain individuals are required to report elder abuse to the authorities. Over the years, several amendments have been added to this progressive piece of civil regulation.
The California legislature cited three distinct reasons for passing this act:
- Elderly individuals and dependent adults constitute a disadvantaged class;
- Criminal prosecutions resulting from harm to elders are rare;
- Civil elder abuse cases are also uncommon.
These three rationales show the primary intention of this legislation. The California government hoped to create a broader legal basis for protecting elderly and dependent adults.
To discuss specific issues regarding the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, reach out to a knowledgeable California elder abuse attorney from Barr & Douds.
Warning Signs of Elder Abuse
Victims of elder abuse often display signs and symptoms of their mistreatment. If you have a loved one in a nursing home who shows any of the following warning signs, it’s imperative that you speak with a legal professional.
Some of the most common indications of elder abuse include:
- Blisters and pinch marks on the skin;
- Bruises and scratches;
- Bedsores from prolonged lack of movement;
- Burns from scalding liquids or restraints;
- Unchanged bed sheets or diapers;
- Lack of adequate supervision or care;
- Malnourishment or dehydration;
- Damage to the skin around the genitals;
- Fraud or other financial exploitation;
- Missing assets or money;
- Lack of appropriate medication or medical care;
- Poor hygiene, including unclean hair, skin damage, or untrimmed nails.
Nursing home abuse and elder neglect take many different forms. In extreme situations, this type of behavior can result in the wrongful death of an elderly person.
Who Is at Risk for Elder Abuse?
While elder abuse can happen to any older person, those with certain disabilities are often more vulnerable to exploitation and mistreatment. Seniors with physical disabilities, poor health, chronic illnesses, dementia, cognitive failures, or confusion are particularly susceptible to abuse.
Sometimes, people with these disabilities may need to rely on others to manage their affairs. Individuals in this situation are known as conservatees. A conservatee may require a caretaker to feed, bathe, dress, and transport them.
Depending on another person for these daily tasks makes them prime targets for theft and other types of abuse. Abusers often focus their attention on the vulnerable and defenseless. To make matters worse, elderly people with cognitive impairments may be less capable of reporting wrongful behavior.
If a caregiver or conservator has hurt someone you love, reach out to an experienced attorney right away to explore your legal options.
Let Our San Francisco Bay Area Lawyers for Elder Abuse Help
What Kinds of People Commit Elder Abuse?
In many instances, elder abuse is committed by those with stewardship or authority over their elderly victims. Common perpetrators include:
- Nursing home staff;
- Hospice care specialists;
- Home health aides;
Close friends and family members may also commit abuse. In fact, anyone with unsupervised access to an elderly individual has the opportunity to mistreat them.
In rare instances, elder abuse is perpetrated by strangers. Those without proper training in elderly care may also cause significant harm by accident.
It’s common for abuse perpetrators to have substance abuse or addiction issues. Family members should keep an eye out for any behaviors that might indicate patterns of abuse.
Reporting of Elder Abuse in San Ramon Valley
Under California State law, individuals in certain positions have an obligation to report suspected elder abuse. These individuals are known as “mandated reporters,” and they’re expected to inform law enforcement about the presence of any warning signs.
Mandated reporters typically have partial or full responsibility to care for the elderly individual in question. Some individuals who are commonly designated as mandated reporters are:
- Nursing home workers;
- Religious clergy;
- Healthcare providers;
- Law enforcement personnel;
- Public officials in adult protective services.
When any of these people have information regarding a case of elder abuse, they have a duty to report it.
Elder Abuse Civil Actions and Damages
California has laws in place for financial damages in civil cases for physical elder abuse. When a claimant provides clear evidence that another party has been physically or psychologically abusive, they may recover financial compensation.
With the help of an attorney for elder abuse, plaintiffs can show that the defendant was oppressive, fraudulent, or negligent. Victims and their families may be able to secure the following types of financial damages following a successful claim:
- Attorneys’ fees and other legal costs;
- Pain and suffering;
- Punitive damages.
If the victim did not survive the abuse, their estate holder might be able to pursue a wrongful death claim with an attorney at their side.
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Elder Abuse Criminal Acts in Northern California
Many of the wrongful actions that constitute elder abuse can result in both civil and criminal penalties. Some of the behaviors that qualify as elder abuse and are also criminally punishable include:
- Battery and assault;
- Sexual abuse or assault;
- Theft and fraud.
Perpetrators of these types of elder abuse may face criminal prosecution as well as civil claims. The California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act draws much of the language describing physical abuse from the state’s criminal statutes.
Regardless of the presence or status of a criminal case, victims can still pursue civil elder abuse lawsuits.
Elder Abuse Restraining Orders
In some elder abuse cases, our elder abuse attorney must act immediately to separate the victim from the abuser. Maybe the abuser has unfettered access to the victim’s funds, the victim needs immediate medical care, or the abuser appears to be changing the victim’s estate plan to make themselves the beneficiary. In these circumstances, our elder abuse attorneys may try to obtain elder abuse restraining orders.
An elder abuse restraining order is a court order prohibiting the abuser from doing one or more of the following to the elder:
- Physically abuse, financially abuse, intimidate, molest, attack, assault (sexually or otherwise), hit, follow, stalk, threaten, harass, destroy personal property, keep under surveillance, or block movements.
- Contact (directly or indirectly), telephone, send messages, mail, or email.
- Take any action to obtain the address or location of the [protected person] or of that person’s family or caretakers.
The order may also include “stay-away” orders requiring the abuser to stay a certain distance away from the older person and their caregivers.
Under California Welfare and Institutions Code §15657.03, when an elder has suffered financial abuse, a restraining order may be sought “to restrain any person for the purpose of preventing a recurrence of abuse, if an affidavit shows, to the satisfaction of the court, reasonable proof of a past act or acts of abuse.”
These orders are powerful tools because they can sometimes be obtained without notice to the abuser. This is important because the victim could be exposed to physical or financial harm if the abuser learns of pending legal action against them while the victim is under their care and control. If the abuser resides with the victim, the order may also require the abuser to leave the residence. The abuser may also have to sell or surrender to police their firearms within 24 hours.
Elder abuse restraining orders can also be obtained based solely on the affidavits of witnesses, with no extensive discovery, such as depositions or subpoenas for financial or medical records. (Once a temporary restraining order is obtained, it is often necessary to conduct discovery to keep the order in place under a preliminary injunction.)
When an elder abuse restraining order is appropriate, our elder abuse attorneys interview the witnesses-typically caregivers, family, friends, or neighbors-and write an account of what they saw or heard that raised suspicions of elder abuse. Once the witnesses have verified the accuracy of these written accounts, we prepare declarations or affidavits for filing with the court, along with the pleadings and forms used to obtain the orders.
In some circumstances, our elder abuse lawyers are asked to defend a client who has been wrongfully accused of elder abuse. If you have been served with notice of a hearing on an elder abuse restraining order against you, it is imperative that you hire an attorney before the hearing on the restraining order.
We Stand for Victims of Elder Abuse & Neglect in the Bay Area
How Our Northern California Financial Elder Abuse Lawyers Can Help
Many people are unsure about their legal options in the aftermath of elder abuse. Speaking with a California elder abuse attorney will give you the best chance of securing a positive outcome in your case.
While victims of elder abuse and their families have many options for seeking compensation, California’s laws are complex. It’s vital for abuse victims to hire a capable elder abuse lawyer in California to pursue maximum financial compensation.
You also have recourse under the law if you’ve been unfairly accused of abuse. Our attorneys will provide a powerful defense to undermine wrongful accusations. When you hire Barr & Douds Attorneys, we’ll:
- Gather relevant evidence in your case;
- Obtain documents to bolster your position;
- Determine how to apply relevant California laws and statutes;
- Pursue maximum financial damages;
- Speak with witnesses and other relevant parties;
- Negotiate forcefully on your behalf.
Don’t hesitate to contact a California elder abuse lawyer from Barr & Douds to represent you.
Our Elder Abuse Cases
Our elder abuse lawyers have handled many elder abuse cases, including financial elder abuse, fraud, neglect, and physical abuse. Some of our representative cases are described below.
- A woman who claimed to be the grandchild of a 109-year-old victim forged 48 checks totaling more than $880,000 from the accounts of the victim and her 90-year-old son. She also had an attorney create an estate plan giving both victims’ estates to her. (The attorney was later convicted in an unrelated matter of conspiracy to commit forgery and disbarred.)
- The daughter of an elderly man hired us when she learned that her father’s fourth wife had persuaded him to transfer about $15 million in cash and real estate to her and her family. At the time of these transactions, her father suffered from severe short-term memory loss.
- The daughter of a 91-year-old woman persuaded her mother to pay the expenses of the daughter’s “friend” whom she claimed to have met on the internet but never seen in person. The daughter persuaded her mother to place five mortgages on her home to help the “friend” with her financial problems, wiping out all the equity in her home.
- Our elder abuse lawyers protected an 89-year-old Danville widow from elder abuse at the hands of her 47-year-old grandson, who was also her caregiver. Barr & Douds obtained elder abuse restraining orders and an award of attorneys’ fees and costs against the abuser.
- While in a dementia facility, an elderly woman discovered that her daughter was emptying her bank accounts. The daughter used a power of attorney and her mother’s diagnosis of dementia to transfer her mother’s money from one bank account to another and withdrew most of the balance. The daughter also cleared out her mother’s home, disposing of her clothes, furniture, photographs, and other tangible personal property.
- A long-time caregiver abused a 94-year-old Martinez man who could not walk, bathe, eat or drink, take medications, prepare meals, clean or dress, get in bed, or use the bathroom without assistance. The victim had a history of serious medical conditions and required round-the-clock care. The caregiver would leave him alone for several hours at a time and permit him to drink too much alcohol. Our elder abuse attorneys also alleged that she capitalized on his incapacity by taking control of his finances and becoming a beneficiary of his trust through undue influence.
- An 87-year-old Walnut Creek woman unable to drive a car or use a computer was victimized by her caregiver, on whom she relied to take her to church, medical appointments, and shopping. The abuser used the victim’s credit cards and ATM to make unauthorized purchases, cash withdrawals, and online purchases. Our elder abuse attorneys obtained summary judgment against the abuser for financial elder abuse, fraud and deceit, conversion, and invalid donative transfers. The summary judgment motion awarded damages of at least $380,000 for the actual monetary damages and punitive damages of three times the actual damages. The abuser filed for bankruptcy before the hearing to establish damages.
Schedule a Consultation with a Danville Elder Abuse Law Firm
If you're in need of assistance from an elder neglect lawyer in California, reach out to Barr & Douds Attorneys today.
- Is a sibling refusing to share details about your parents' finances?
- Did your mother or father make suspicious "gifts" to a sibling or caretaker while incapacitated?
- Has a neighbor or caretaker become a parent's "new best friend"?
- Is someone preventing you from visiting a loved one?
- Have you noticed suspicious activity on a credit card statement?
- Is a caretaker neglecting your parent's health or nutrition?
- Has someone taken control of your parents' finances?