Abuse of the elderly – whether physical, sexual, mental, or financial abuse – is sadly a common occurrence in California, with reports of 1 in 7 seniors experiencing elder abuse, but it is of course illegal despite its widespread prevalence. When a senior experiences elder abuse or a family member suspects elder abuse, they often wonder where to turn and how exactly California polices elders abuse, if at all. There are certainly law enforcement resources you can and should turn to in order to protect seniors from injury, but sometimes working with an elder abuse attorney to bring a civil suit for damages against abusers of the elderly and their employers can also be an effective supplement to law enforcement action in fighting back against elder abuse in our state.
Law Enforcement and Elder Abuse in California
If a senior citizen is in physical danger, has been physically abused, or has had property stolen, then calling the local sheriff or police department should certainly be an immediate response. In addition to local law enforcement resources, a concerned family member can contact a local long-term care ombudsman to report elder abuse occurring at a long-term care facility by calling 1-800-231-4024. Furthermore, you can report elder abuse through the elder abuse hotline maintained by the California Attorney General’s office at 1-800-722-0432. If the abuse is occurring not in a long-term care facility but rather in a private home, then you are also encouraged to reach out to your local Adult Protective Services, which can be found by calling 1-800-510-2020.
How Working with an Attorney Can Help You Fight Elder Abuse
While state and local law enforcement efforts to combat elder abuse should be encouraged and utilized, there are several inherent limitations to such efforts with regard to what they can accomplish for the victims of elder abuse and their families:
- They operate on limited public resources, meaning they may not have the ability to fully address all issues of elder abuse
- Law enforcement is primarily focused on seeking compliance with laws, not in obtaining financial recovery for losses endured by victims of elder abuse
- The standard for proving elder abuse in a criminal court is beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning many abusers may go unpunished due to a lack of evidence, whereas a civil lawsuit can be won by the lower standard of a preponderance of evidence
By working with an experienced elder abuse attorney in bringing a civil lawsuit for elder abuse against abusers and their employers, you will have a legal representative whose only goal is to promote your interests and win the justice and recovery that you and your family deserve. Oftentimes, civil lawsuits can have a powerful deterrent effect against elder abuse by forcing organizations to take seriously the public scourge of elder abuse and thereby take steps to prevent it from occurring again.
If you suspect elder abuse in California, you should by all means contact law enforcement as necessary, but you are also encouraged to speak with an experienced elder abuse attorney to determine what additional options you have in seeking justice for victims of elder abuse.
Southern California Elder Abuse Attorneys
At McCune Wright Arevalo, our legal team is on the side of elder abuse victims and their families. Our attorneys have recovered over $500 million for our clients. If you suspect that you or a family member have been a victim of elder abuse, please contact McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP today at (909) 345-8110 to schedule a free consultation.