Advocates for seniors in San Diego County and throughout California have concerns about elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Last year, lawmakers took steps to speed up the rate at which elder abuse cases will be heard in California courts. Specifically, a recent article in the Monterey County Weekly reported on changes to the law in 2016 that will take effect this year, including SB 1065. This bill, proposed by State Senator Bill Monning, was signed into law in 2016 and is schedule to take effect on July 1, 2017. This is not a new law altogether, but rather, as the article clarifies, “builds on the existing Elder and Dependent Adult Civil protection Act to move elder abuse cases through the courts faster.”
Currently, without the law in effect, the article emphasizes that the “appellate process can take more than three years.” Once SB 1065 takes effect, however, all appeals must be decided by the court within 100 days. What else should you know about SB 1065 and its impact on San Diego County seniors?
Details of SB 1065 and its Elder Abuse Protections
Recognizing that “elders and dependent adults are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, or abandonment,” and that the state of California “has a responsibility to protect these persons,” the specific language of SB 1065 proposed a change to the Elder and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA) when it comes to the timetable for appeals in civil cases. The proposed bill highlighted that the current law “sets forth specific provisions governing civil actions arising from the abuse of elderly or depending adults,” and noting that “[e]xisting law permits a party to a civil action who is over 70 years of age to petition the court for preference under certain circumstances.”
The law is supposed to provide protections for seniors in California who have been subject to nursing home abuse or neglect. However, as the proposed bill suggested, the fact that the opposing party is permitted an extended time for appeal limits the power of the law. As such, the proposed legislation aimed to shorten the time period in which an opposing party could appeal a decision compelling arbitration.
In brief, the changes to the law help to ensure that there is a “limited expedited appeal process for a person filing a claim arising under the Elder and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act who has received a court preference to expedite the claim.” As such, the law also requires the Judicial Council to adopt rules to implement the changes.
Addressing Fairness Issues Surrounding Arbitration in California
The Senate analysis of the bill emphasizes that it arose out of a relatively recent U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning the Federal Arbitration Act. The bill, like other arbitration-related bills in California, aimed to “address various fairness issues surrounding the rules that govern the conduct and operation of arbitrators and arbitrations in [the] state.”
Why is this bill so important? The analysis highlights that one of the issues with delays in elder abuse cases is that the senior may not survive the length of time before an appeal is decided. As such, requiring a court to make a decision on an appeal within 100 days helps to ensure that the senior’s elder abuse action will live to see the resolution of his or her case.
Contact a San Diego County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Do you have questions about filing a nursing home abuse claim under the EADACPA? An experienced nursing home abuse attorney in San Diego County can assist with your case. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.
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(image courtesy of Todd Diemer)