New Jersey Elder Abuse Attorneys
Elder abuse is a deeply troubling issue that affects older adults all over the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 500,000 Americans suffer from elder abuse and neglect every year—and when hesitation to report abuse is factored in, the true number could be much higher. Mistreatment, abuse, and neglect of elderly Americans can take place in long-term care facilities, hospitals, and private residences, and it can take many forms.
A U.S. House of Representatives investigation found that more than 30 percent of nursing homes in the U.S. were cited for an abuse violation during a two-year period. Further, the investigation found that almost 10 percent of all nursing homes were cited for abuse violations that resulted in actual harm to residents.
These reports of rampant abuse are even more troubling when coupled with the growth of the elderly population. The 2010 U.S. Census documented the largest-ever number and proportion of older Americans with 40.3 million adults age 65 and up, representing 13 percent of the overall population. By 2050, adults 65 and older are expected to represent 20 percent of the total U.S. population, and the fastest-growing age group is made up of adults 85 and older.
Friends and family of elderly adults should not have to fear for the safety of their loved ones in a long-term care facility, nursing home, hospital, or private residence. The best way to ensure our senior citizens are well-cared for is to aggressively investigate claims of elder abuse and hold abusers accountable for their actions.
If you suspect a loved one is being abused, contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi. Our experienced team of attorneys will aggressively investigate your claim and ensure the abusers are held accountable for their misconduct. Call (201) 585-9111 or fill out an online inquiry to set up your free and confidential consultation.
What is Elder Abuse?
The Administration on Aging defines elder abuse is defined as “any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.”
The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) is a national nonprofit organization that works to improve quality of life for elderly Americans and provide resources to stop mistreatment of elders and other vulnerable adults. The types of abuse most commonly reported to NAPSA agencies are:
- Physical abuse: inflicting injury or physical pain on a senior, including bruising, slapping, hitting, beating, or restraining someone against his or her will by physical or chemical means (such as the improper administration of anti-psychotic medications)
- Emotional abuse: infliction of anguish, distress, or mental pain on an elder person through threats, intimidation, or humiliation (includes insults, yelling, threatening harm or isolation, and nonverbal actions like throwing objects or glaring to create fear or intimidation)
- Neglect: failure to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for an elder who is dependent on others for primary care (includes any failure to support the physical, emotional, or social needs of the adult)
- Isolation: restricting visits from family and friends and/or preventing contact via telephone or mail
- Sexual abuse: using physical force, threats, or coercion to facilitate non-consensual touching, fondling, or intercourse; particularly troubling when it involves vulnerable adults who are unable to give consent or understand the nature of the actions
- Exploitation: the illegal taking, misuse, or mishandling of possessions, assets, or property (including the use of someone’s assets without consent, through coercion or manipulation, or under false pretenses
- Abandonment: the desertion of a vulnerable adult by someone who has assumed responsibility for his or her care
What Should You Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse?
Victims of elder abuse tend to suffer in silence. The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that the incidence rate for elder abuse is nearly 24 times that of the reported rate; in other words, for every elder abuse incident reported to social service, law enforcement, or legal authorities, 24 incidents go unreported and unaddressed.
While no two incidents of abuse are the same, there are certain tell-tale signs that can indicate elder abuse. NAPSA has identified the following warning signs:
- Sudden inability to meet physical, psychological, or social needs threatening health, well-being, or safety
- Falling out of contact with neighbors, friends, or family
- Welts or bruising on the skin, especially those appearing on the face or arms (research has shown that bruises are significantly more likely to form in cases of abuse than cases of accidental injuries)
- Fingerprints or handprints visible on the face, neck, arms, or wrists
- Burns from scalding, cigarettes, or in the shape of an object (such as an iron)
- Cuts, lacerations, or puncture wounds
- Sprains, fractures, or dislocations
- Internal injuries or vomiting
- Torn, stained, or bloody clothing
- Disheveled appearance, sometimes coupled with soiled clothing or inappropriate attire for the weather
- Appearing malnourished, dehydrated, hungry, disoriented, or confused
Seniors living with physical or mental disabilities are particularly at risk for elder abuse. Often, elderly adults living with dementia or other diminished mental faculties are unable to make their own decisions, unable to recognize the characteristics of abuse, or unable to take action to protect their own well-being.
If you are suffering abuse (or suspect a family member is suffering abuse) at the hands of a caregiver, health care worker, or family member, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. The New Jersey Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly offers a 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-877-582-6995 for reporting nursing home abuse. Callers can remain anonymous and case files are closed to the public.
Can You File a Personal Injury Case for Elder Abuse?
Depending on the circumstances of the suspected abuse, different legal remedies are available.
If the abuse is occurring in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, you can pursue legal action against the nursing home employee(s) or the nursing home itself. Under the New Jersey Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights, nursing home residents are entitled to certain standards of care and protection from staff. In addition to protecting residents, the Residents’ Bill of Rights states that the nursing home is responsible for costs and attorney fees for litigating an elder abuse case if the patient’s rights were violated during his or her stay.
Sexual abuse, physical abuse, and financial exploitation can all lead to criminal charges filed against the abuser. Family members and those suffering from elder abuse can also pursue a restraining order against the abuser or seek guardianship of the victim to ensure he or she is acting in their own best interests.
Contact a New Jersey Elder Abuse Lawyer
Elder abuse is a troubling and emotional issue. Senior citizens should be able to trust family members, caretakers, and medical professionals to treat them with respect and care. Unfortunately, poorly trained medical staff, opportunistic thieves, and neglectful caretakers continue to take advantage of our most vulnerable friends and relatives.
If you or a loved one has suffered from elder abuse, contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi today. Our experienced team of trial attorneys is prepared to investigate the claim thoroughly and determine your best course of legal action. Call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 or fill out an online inquiry to schedule your free and confidential consultation.