Filing an Elder Abuse Claim for Your Deceased Loved One

Elder abuse might sound like an uncommon occurrence, until you take a closer look at the latest statistics from the National Center on Elder Abuse:

1) There are roughly 2,150,000 elder abuse cases each year in the U.S.

2) 5 percent of the elderly population will experience some form of abuse.

3) 91 percent of nursing homes are understaffed.

4) 36 percent of nursing homes have documented violations of elder abuse laws.

Has your loved one recently passed away? If you believe they might have been abused in their nursing home or care facility, you can still bring an elder abuse claim to court, even after they have deceased. Read on to learn more.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is best defined as any harm inflicted on an adult age 65 or older. In many cases, the person who is being abused might not have an outlet or the emotional strength to express what they’re encountering.

There are several types of elder abuse including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Neglect or abandonment

In California, elder abuse is punishable under Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA), better known simply as the Elder Abuse Act. Under this law, an elder or their family member can seek non-economic damages —such as pain and suffering and emotional distress—stemming from alleged abuse.

After the Elder Dies

After an elder dies, their right to litigation transfers to a personal representative, usually a next of kin or successor of interest. This means that the personal representative can sue on behalf of the deceased elder, with additional non-economic compensation included in the case of a wrongful death lawsuit. The EADACPA provides these special provisions for elder abuse cases to help families cope with the distress of knowing their loved one was treated improperly prior to their death.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that the abuse does not have to be the cause of death in order for your claim to carry weight in court.

Signs Your Deceased Loved One Was Abused

An autopsy and/or death certificate can provide hints that your loved one might have suffered abuse. For example, dehydration listed as a cause of death might signal that their caregiver neglected to give them an adequate water supply. Burns, fractures, bedsores, and missed medication are other common signs of abuse.

In many cases, elder abuse is not discovered until after an elder is deceased due to their family members living out of state and not being present to hold the care facility accountable for wrongdoings while the elder was alive.

Elder Abuse Attorney

Belgum, Fry & Van Allen specialize in elder abuse and elder neglect cases, including those in which the elder is deceased. If your loved one was abused prior to their death, you might be entitled to damages on their behalf. Click here to get a free evaluation today.