California has enacted aggressive legislation protecting elders and dependent adults from physical, emotional or financial abuse. These protections are codified at Welfare & Institutions Code section 15600 et seq. and known as the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, or EADACPA. These provisions are aimed at preventing physical abuse or neglect of elders or dependent adults. Under the Act, “neglect” is defined as the failure to provide basic medical services or care that is needed by an elder or dependent adult. An “elder’ is defined as anyone over the age of 65. The Act is primarily but not solely directed at protecting elders that are residing in nursing homes, or in some other form of custodial care, although it is not limited to such settings. For example, abuse of an elder parent at one’s private home can fall under the Act.
Under the EADACPA, elder and dependent adult abuse can be proven when elders in nursing homes are not provided with basic nutritional or hydration needs; when basic medical needs are not provided for; when medications that were prescribed by a physician were not provided; when patients are forced to live in dirty or unsanitary conditions, such as repeated failures to change soiled bed sheets or clothes in a reasonably timely fashion; and when failure to rotate a patient’s position in bed results in a patient suffering dangerous and potentially life threatening bedsores.
We are proud to have resolved several dozen elder and dependent adult abuse claims for our clients. While the type of neglect covered by the Act is most commonly found in nursing homes or residential care facilities for the elderly, we are one of the few firms who has successfully proven statutory elder and dependant adult abuse in the hospital and outpatient setting, obtaining pain and suffering damages for our clients greater than what they would have been entited to if they had only proven medical malpractice alone.
It is important to note that the statutory definition of dependent adult also includes anyone who cannot provide for their own basic medical, dietary, or other needs. Some significant California cases have held that any person who is an inpatient in a hospital qualifies as a dependent adult under the statutory definition. Therefore, it is not necessary that the plaintiff be over 65 for the Act’s protections to apply. A younger person suffering from a medical condition serious enough to require hospitalization, or that prevents the patient from being independent in providing for his or her own needs at home, can also benefit from the Act’s protections. If you believe that you or a loved one have suffered an injury in a custodial or medical setting, it is important that you hire an attorney who will determine whether you may be able to make claims under the EADACPA and not be limited to claims and financial cap of medical malpractice.
Our office specializes in aggressively pleading EADACPA causes of action when the facts warrant it to maximize our clients’ recoveries. This is especially important with elders who may not have large past or future wage loss claims or other monetary losses due to abuse suffered, and whose main damages may be primarily be limited to pain and suffering alone.
Please see representative elder, dependant adult and nursing home cases we have resoved for our clients. Contact us to learn more: 415-292-4100. We would be happy to help you understand your rights.