Elder Abuse Attorneys
Elder abuse attorneys specialize in cases of abuse and neglect toward senior citizens. Find out how an elder abuse attorney can represent your case.
Every year, there are millions of incidents of elder abuse in the United States. Elder abuse refers to any case where a senior citizen is either physically or emotionally abused, as well as abandoned, neglected or exploited. Many seniors are targeted by criminals because they have a difficult time defending themselves. Not only are seniors physically at risk, but criminals take advantage of their mental state, insisting the senior is mentally addled and making up the alleged crimes. Seniors are also easier to intimidate, with many victims of elderly abuse either not knowing they can report the incident or being too intimidated to make a claim.
One of the ways seniors can get justice is to hire an elder abuse attorney. Elder abuse attorneys specialize in cases relating to senior citizens. Some attorneys specialize in a specific type of case, such as nursing home abuse, while others represent cases involving family members. Listed below are some of the ways an elder abuse attorney can help you.
The first way an elder abuse attorney can help is providing advice. This refers to both personal and legal advice. Many cases of elder abuse are reoccurring, especially if you live in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Until the case is resolved, you may continue to be a victim of abuse. Elder abuse attorneys know what resources are available to keep you safe. They can advise you where to go so your abuser cannot reach you. If you are trapped in a facility with an abuser, your attorney can challenge the facility and get you moved to a safer location until the case is resolved.
There are additional challenges if you have an ongoing medical condition, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Not only does this affect your current care, but it may be used to attempt to dispute your claims. Elder abuse attorneys know how to accommodate for these medical conditions, ensuring you are not dismissed because of your health.
Every state provides resources for senior citizens, but these benefits are not always openly advertised. Your attorney advises you on how the state can help, including programs to help you pay for medical and legal expenses, or to prevent you from being evicted. Your attorney can even represent you when you apply for assistance.
Power of Attorney
A common form of elderly abuse involves power of attorney. Power of attorney allows you to appoint a trusted individual to make financial, medical or major life decisions on your behalf. Whoever is appointed can legally sign documents using your name. Unfortunately, some individuals abuse this position and make decisions that only benefit themselves and not you, such as selling your property or making risky financial investments with your account.
These cases are difficult to challenge, but not impossible. An elder abuse attorney can challenge the appointed party and temporarily get their powers revoked until the case is involved. They can also help you transfer power of attorney away from the abusive party to a trustworthy source. If you are concerned about your finances, elder abuse attorneys can refer you to financial institutions in the state to manage your accounts.
Proving Elder Abuse
In some cases, it is difficult to prove elder abuse took place. Many criminals who prey on the elderly are experienced and know how to hide their wrongdoings. One of the first things an elder abuse attorney does after taking a case is gathering evidence. If you were physically abused, your attorney can arrange a medical consultation. Any injuries, such as bruises, pressure marks or abrasions can be submitted as evidence.
Not all evidence comes from physical injuries. In many elderly abuse cases, especially involving neglect or emotional abuse, there are notable changes in behavior. This includes sudden depression, withdrawal from normal activities and paranoia. An elder abuse attorney knows how to properly document this evidence, keeping your abuser from claiming these symptoms are the result of a medical condition or other incident.
If you are in a nursing home or receive assistance from a caregiver service, there are additional ways to look for neglect. Both caregivers and assisted living facilities must meet certain standards. Attorneys can point to poor hygiene, dirty homes or sudden weight loss as indicators of elderly abuse.
If you are abused in an elderly living facility, one of the ways the staff gets away with their crime is limiting your visitation rights. There are a number of reasons why a facility may turn away visitors, such as making up a medical condition or claiming your mood is too erratic for visitors. Elder abuse attorneys can challenge visitation denials and ensure your friends and family members have the right to see you.
Alternatively, if the abuse is coming from an individual with visitation rights, your attorney can fight to have the rights revoked. This is especially important if your family members are pressuring you to make changes to your finances, such as handing over bank accounts or making alterations to your will.
Hiring an Elder Abuse Attorney
The cost of an elder abuse attorney varies depending on where you live and the nature of your case. On average, elder abuse attorneys charge between $150 to $500 per hour. Some or all of these expenses may be covered by your insurance. There are also many nonprofit groups that assist seniors with legal costs.
While these rates may seem high, an elder abuse attorney will not charge you upfront. The majority of law firms provide a free legal consultation, which breaks down legal costs as well as what financial assistance is available. There are also many attorneys who take pro bono legal cases, meaning all the charges are handled by the law firm.
Word of mouth is an excellent way to find local elder abuse attorneys. If you do not know anyone to ask, there are several legal databases to find elder abuse attorneys. The first is the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). NELF allows you to search for attorneys by state. You can also search through the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.