Elder Abuse and Neglect Claims in Boca Raton
The definition of elder abuse and neglect can take on many different meanings. But, in essence, it involves a caregiver’s willful or negligent act that threatens or injures an elderly person. This can also include an injury to an elderly individual as the result of withholding or neglecting care that an elderly person may need to be mentally and physically healthy. As such, elder abuse and neglect involves both overt acts as well as omissions.
The definition of elder abuse may also include exploitation regarding an elder’s finances, property and assets that the elderly person is unable to protect. This form of abuse can be to permanently or temporarily deprive that person of their assets for someone’s personal gain. It can also take the form of concealment or misrepresentation, through deception, when it comes to the use and disposition of property, which was originally meant to benefit the elderly person who is being victimized.
Elder abuse can involve the intimidation through the use of words or actions that may include shouting at the elderly person or making threats regarding the withholding of food or other necessary items and services. Additionally elder abuse and neglect may involve the failure of a caregiver to provide the necessary services, care and supervision that an elder needs in order to maintain their physical and mental health and well-being (food, medicine, shelter, etc.).
Elder’s rights come under the protection of the Adult Protective Services Act and various Florida statutes that are designed to protect them from abuse and neglect. These are designed to establish a protocol in which to detect and correct cases of exploitation, neglect and abuse by way of criminal investigations and social services. There are various programs in place to protect the elderly and the disabled. They also made the reporting of cases involving the neglect of elderly and disabled individuals mandatory. This will allow the state to address these situations and make the proper corrections and prevent further incidents of elder abuse and neglect from occurring.
Florida statute 825.1035 was created for the purpose of protecting vulnerable elderly from the eminent act of exploitation. A sworn petition can be filed even if there is no other pending cause of action. The petition may be filed by the adult who is vulnerable, their guardian or any organization of person(s) that have been authorized by the vulnerable adult. The petition will be filed in the circuit court or, if guardianship is still pending, it is filed in that case.
Florida statute 825.103 specifies those acts in which a crime has been committed along with the specifications of the associated penalties when it comes to the exploitation of the elderly. These acts may include; acting contrary to the elder’s best interests, obtains their power of attorney appointment under fraudulent conditions, mismanages assets intentionally, abuses their authority, appropriates property in an unauthorized manner or commits other forms of fiduciary breaches.
Other criminal activities, under this statute, include; unauthorized transfer of funds that belong to the elder, from an account that was established by that elder, where the elder was the sole funds contributor or owned the funds. This includes joint accounts that were originally established for convenience. It also considered a crime for those who are standing in a position of confidence or trust (either caregivers or other individuals) to neglect to utilize funds that belong to and/or are needed for the elder’s support.
Also, it may be assumed to fall under the category of exploitation if there is a transfer of property, valued over $10 thousand (whether in single or multiple transactions) by an individual who is 65 years old (or older) to a non-relative that the elder has known for fewer than two years, without the receiving individual obtaining anything of equivalent value from the elder. Up to $10 thousand can constitute a third degree felony. It can be considered a first degree felony if the value was over $50 thousand and a second degree felony if the value was over $10 thousand but less than $50 thousand.
Florida statute 415.1111 indicates that a vulnerable elder that has been exploited, abused or neglected has the right to bring a civil action against the one(s) responsible for the purpose of recovering punitive and/or actual damages. They may also be entitled to restitution involving their attorney’s fees. This can be in addition to the administrative and criminal remedies that are available to the one who is bringing the civil action.
Florida statute 415.1034 places a mandatory requirement for the following individuals to immediately report a reasonable suspicion or knowledge of a vulnerable elder who is being abused, exploited and/or neglected to the central abuse hotline:
- Bank, savings and loan or credit union officers and trustees
- Long-term care or Florida advocacy ombudsman council members
- Employees of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation
- Law enforcement officers
- State, county, or municipal criminal justice employees
- Adult family-care home staff
- Social workers
- Adult day care staff
- Assisted living staff
- Nursing home staff
- Spiritual healers
- Mental health professionals
- Health professionals
- Hospital personnel
You can report suspected or known cases of elder abuse to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) You can contact them either by calling their hotline at 1(800) -96ABUSE.
This toll free number is available 24/7.
TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf): 1.800.453.5145.
By Fax: To make a report via fax, please send a detailed written report with your name and contact telephone to 1.800.914.0004.
In addition, Florida statute 415.1036 stipulates that anyone who reports elder abuse or is a participant in a judicial proceeding will be presumed to be acting in good faith and will be immune from criminal or personal liability. This, however, will not be the case if convincing and clear evidence is presented that the informant was not acting in good faith. Also, the person who makes the report can have a cause of action for punitive and compensatory damages against those who cause any harmful alterations to the individual’s residency or negatively affect their employment status.
When it comes to elder abuse and neglect, there are a number of signs that can be detected. The signs of elder abuse and neglect will generally fall into several categories and each will have its own set of circumstances and determining factors.
Some of the most common signs of elder abuse and neglect are:
- Losing valuable items on a frequent basis and saying that they must have been misplaced
- A lack of basic needs, such as water and food
- Needing to make frequent trips to the emergency room
- Evidence of poor circulation (sunken eyes and cheeks)
- An unexplained injury that doesn’t appear to be properly addressed
- Poor hygiene
- Malnourished when it can’t be attributed to an illness
While these are readily observable signs of neglect or abuse, there are some signs that may be a bit more subtle, such as behavioral alterations including:
- Becoming easily confused or disoriented
- Not wanting to speak freely
- Concocting an unbelievable story of how an injury was sustained
- Being unresponsive or appearing “resigned”
- Showing signs of; fear, agitation, anger or anxiety
- Withdrawn and isolated from others
- Showing symptoms of depression
The elderly person has lost the ability to understand the meaning of finances and money transactions
The caregiver doesn’t appear to be providing for the welfare of the elder, yet has access to all the elder’s finances
The caregiver requests large monetary reimbursement of costly gifts in exchange for companionship and/or care giving
An unusual lack of standard amenities in the elder’s home that they can obviously afford
- Burns on the elder that are not explainable
- Sores that are located on the elder’s body
- Cuts that can be seen on the elder
- Bruises and welts that appear without any given explanation
- Treatment for bone fractures– especially with patients that are not mobile
- Severe pressure sores and bed sores
- Basic amenities are missing, such as; sufficient heating and cooling and other amenities that were originally advertised by the facility
- There is a lack of cleanliness with accumulated dirt and dust
- Lack of supervision while being left for extended periods of time in a bed or wheelchair
- Medical aids are missing, such as; hearing aids, eyeglasses, dentures and walkers
- Clothing that is not appropriate for the temperature
It is extremely important to know that the caregiver is a reliable individual who can readily manage the needs of an elderly individual. However, it may be the case in which the person who is assigned this specialized duty is either unwilling or unable to carry out their duties appropriately. This is one reason why it’s important to know the references of those who are to provide these services. Some signs of an abusive caregiver can include:
- Providing conflicting accounts of incidents that involve personal injury to the elder in their care
- Obviously withholding affection from the elderly person in their care
- Referring to the elderly person as if they were a nuisance or a burden
- Acting inappropriately such as being flirtatious
- Becoming aggressive, angry or indifferent towards the elderly person
- Not allowing an elderly person to speak alone with a visitor
- Having a history of mental illness, criminal behavior or substance abuse
These are just some of the things that you need to watch out for, when it comes to an elderly person’s caregiver. If you are planning on having an elderly loved one moved to a Boca Raton nursing facility, it’s important to check the history of the facility. Make the proper inquiries as to any complaints that have been made against them. In addition, find out their criteria and means for hiring their staff members.
Also, it’s very important to regularly check up on a loved one that is currently living in a nursing home facility, assisted living complex or at home with a caregiver. It’s a sad fact that those who are subject to being neglected by family and friends are also those that could possibly become a target for caregiver abuse and neglect.
There are many more different types of situations that can warrant elder abuse and neglect claims. This is why it’s important to seek the advice of an Elder Abuse and Negligence attorney, serving Boca Raton, to discuss your options.
When you or a loved one is a victim of elder abuse or neglect in Boca Raton, it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney, in order to try to receive the best care and compensation that you may deserve. Therefore, when you are involved in a Boca Raton elder abuse situation, seek immediate appropriate and additional medical care and contact a Florida personal injury lawyer.
Discuss Your Case with an Elder Abuse and Neglect Personal Injury Attorney Serving Boca Raton Today! If you were injured in an elder abuse or neglect incident in Boca Raton, turn to Frankl & Kominsky for comprehensive legal guidance. Call (561) 800-8000 or use our Contact Form to set up a free consultation.