In Valley Center and throughout California, laws are in place that are designed to protect older adults from nursing home abuse and neglect. While elder abuse can occur in a variety of settings, caregivers and staff members are nursing facilities can be held accountable under both civil and criminal law in California. When families are considering filing a nursing home abuse claim against an individual or a facility, it is important to understand how criminal laws in California provide language that can help to define the type of abuse that has resulted in a senior’s injuries.
A recent article in Valley News discusses basic California law related to elder abuse and neglect, and we want to provide more information about the key definitions and components of those laws.
Understanding Legal Definitions Related to Elder Abuse and Neglect in California
How does California define elder abuse? Under Section 15610.07 of the Welfare and Institution Code, the term “abuse of an elder or a dependent adult” is defined as one of the following:
- Physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction or other treatment with resulting physical harm or pain or mental suffering; or
- The deprivation by a care custodian of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering.
The law defines neglect separately from abuse. Under Section 15610.57 of the Welfare and Institution Code, neglect is defined as one of the following:
- The negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise; or
- The negligent failure of an elder or dependent adult to exercise that degree of self care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.
The law clarifies that neglect includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Failure to assist in personal hygiene, or in the provision of food, clothing or shelter;
- Failure to provide medical care for physical and mental health needs;
- Failure to protect from health and safety hazards;
- Failure to prevent malnutrition or dehydration; and/or
- Failure of an elder or dependent adult to satisfy the need specified above.
Different Forms of Abuse and Neglect Under California Law
In California, the Welfare and Institution Code distinguishes among physical abuse (Section 15610.63), psychological abuse (Section 15610.53), financial abuse (Section 15610.30), neglect abuse (Section 15610.57(a)), isolation abuse (15610.43), and abandonment (Section 15610.05).
The Welfare and Institution Code provides protections to seniors and other dependent adults outside of criminal sanctions. In addition to the legal definitions cited above, the California Penal Code also makes it unlawful to engage in abuse or neglect of an older adult. The penalty for abuse increases when the victim is aged 70 or older.
To be clear, California law does define elder abuse and neglect differently for civil and criminal purposes. Yet as the Valley News article underscores, the fact that a person can be subject to civil and criminal penalties for abusing an older adult demonstrates that California takes nursing home abuse seriously.
Contact a Valley Center Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today
If you suspect that an elderly loved one has sustained injuries as a result of elder abuse or neglect, an experienced and compassionate Valley Center nursing home abuse lawyer can discuss your options with you. You may be able to file a claim for compensation. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about the services we provide to clients in San Diego County.
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