We Stand Against Elder Abuse in New Mexico
Elder abuse is a grave concern affecting countless seniors across the nation, and New Mexico is no exception. It encompasses a range of harmful actions, including physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect and abandonment. This type of abuse can occur in various settings, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, private homes, or even hospitals.
Sadly, this type of abuse often goes unnoticed or unreported due to fear or inability to communicate the situation effectively. At Harvey & Foote, we believe every senior citizen should live a life free from harm and exploitation, which is why we stand against any form of elder abuse.
What is Considered Elder Abuse?
As we mentioned earlier, elder abuse refers to any intentional or negligent act that causes harm or distress to an older adult, typically aged 60 or older, who may be physically or mentally frail. It can occur in various settings, including homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or even in public places.
Elder abuse can take many forms, and it is a serious societal issue that can have devastating physical, emotional, and financial consequences for older individuals. Common forms of elder abuse include:
- Physical Abuse: Inflicting physical harm on an elderly person through acts such as hitting, kicking, slapping, or pushing. The inappropriate use of restraints or medication to control or harm the individual.
- Emotional or Psychological Abuse: Verbal abuse, humiliation, threats, intimidation, or isolation, which can lead to emotional distress, anxiety, and depression. Ignoring or neglecting the elder's emotional needs.
- Financial Abuse or Exploitation: Unauthorized use of an older person's funds, property, or assets. Coercion or deception to gain control over an elder's financial resources. Fraudulent activities such as identity theft, forging signatures, or manipulating bank accounts.
- Neglect: Failing to provide essential care and support, including food, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and medical attention. Abandoning an elderly person without adequate care.
- Sexual Abuse: Any non-consensual sexual activity involving an older adult. Sexual harassment or exploitation.
- Abandonment: Deserting an older person by those responsible for their care, leaving them without necessary assistance or supervision.
- Self-Neglect: When an older person neglects their own basic needs, such as failing to maintain personal hygiene, nutrition, or medical care.
- Healthcare Fraud and Abuse: Overmedicating or undermedicating an elder. Providing unnecessary medical treatments or procedures to exploit insurance benefits.
Elder abuse can involve various liable parties, depending on the specific circumstances and the type of abuse that occurs. The liable parties may include:
- Family Members: Adult children, spouses, or other family members who are responsible for the care and well-being of the elderly person can be liable for abuse if they engage in any form of mistreatment, neglect, or financial exploitation.
- Caregivers: Professional caregivers, such as home health aides, nursing home staff, or personal care attendants, can be liable if they physically, emotionally, or financially abuse or neglect the elderly individuals under their care.
- Healthcare Providers: Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals may be held liable if they provide substandard medical care, overmedicate, or undermedicate older patients, leading to harm or neglect.
- Financial Advisors or Guardians: Individuals appointed as financial advisors, guardians, or power of attorney agents can be liable if they misuse the elderly person's assets, engage in financial exploitation, or fail to act in the best financial interests of the elderly person.
- Scammers and Fraudsters: Unknown individuals or organized scams targeting older adults for financial fraud or exploitation can be liable if they deceive or steal from elderly victims.
- Institutional Settings: Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other institutions can be held liable for elder abuse that occurs within their premises if they fail to provide a safe and secure environment or if their staff members engage in abusive or neglectful behavior.
- Friends and Acquaintances: Friends, neighbors, or acquaintances who have access to the elderly person or are involved in their lives can be liable if they exploit, abuse, or neglect the older individual.
- Legal and Financial Advisors: Attorneys, accountants, or financial advisors who are involved in an elder's legal or financial affairs can be liable if they participate in fraudulent or exploitative activities.
Proving Elder Abuse Claims
Elder abuse claims are typically pursued to seek justice for the victim and to hold the responsible parties accountable. The specific elements you may need to prove can depend on the type of elder abuse alleged.
Here are some general considerations:
- Duty of Care: You may need to establish that the alleged abuser owed a duty of care to the elderly person, which could be based on a caregiver relationship, a nursing home staff duty, or another form of responsibility.
- Breach of Duty: You may need to demonstrate that the duty of care was breached, showing that the caregiver or responsible party failed to meet the standard of care expected in that situation.
- Causation: Connect the breach of duty to the harm suffered by the elderly person. This involves showing that the abuse or neglect directly caused the injuries or damages.
- Damages: Prove that the elderly person suffered actual harm, whether it's physical injuries, emotional distress, financial losses, or other damages.
Depending on the type of elder abuse, you may need to establish intent (in cases of intentional harm) or negligence (in cases of failure to provide proper care). Collect relevant evidence, which may include medical records, witness statements, financial records, or other documentation that supports your claims.
What to Do If Your Loved One is a Victim of Elder Abuse
If you suspect or know that your loved one is experiencing elder abuse, it's important to take immediate action to ensure their safety and well-being. Here are steps you can consider taking:
- Ensure Immediate Safety: If there is an immediate threat to your loved one's safety, call emergency services (911 in the U.S.) for immediate assistance. If the danger is not immediate but you believe your loved one is in a harmful situation, consider moving them to a safe location.
- Report to Authorities: Contact your local Adult Protective Services (APS) agency or the appropriate elder abuse reporting hotline in your area. APS is designed to respond to and investigate reports of elder abuse.
- Seek Medical Attention: If your loved one has suffered physical harm, ensure they receive prompt medical attention. Document injuries and keep records of medical examinations.
- Gather Information and Evidence: Document any signs of abuse, including photographs of injuries, instances of neglect, or any evidence of financial exploitation. Collect relevant documents, such as medical records, financial statements, and communication records.
- Speak with Your Loved One: If possible, talk to your loved one about the situation. Be supportive, understanding, and non-confrontational. Listen to their concerns and experiences.
- Contact Law Enforcement: If criminal activity is suspected, contact local law enforcement to report the abuse. Provide them with any evidence or information you have gathered.
- Consult with an Elder Law Attorney: Seek legal advice from an attorney specializing in elder law or personal injury. They can guide you on potential legal actions and help protect your loved one's rights.
- Limit Contact with Perpetrator: If the abuser is a family member or caregiver, take steps to limit their contact with the elderly person. Consider obtaining a restraining order if necessary.
- Connect with Support Services: Explore support services for your loved one, such as counseling, support groups, or community resources that can help address the emotional and physical impact of the abuse.
- Follow Up with Authorities: Stay involved in the investigative process. Follow up with APS, law enforcement, or any other authorities involved in the case.
Remember that elder abuse is a serious matter, and taking prompt action is crucial. Reporting suspicions of abuse can help protect your loved one and prevent further harm. If you're unsure about the appropriate steps to take, consult with professionals who specialize in elder law or abuse prevention for guidance tailored to your specific situation.
Our Commitment To You
Our team commits ourselves to thoroughly investigate your case, gather necessary evidence, and build a compelling case on your behalf. Whether it’s fighting for justice in court or negotiating settlements outside the court system, our Albuquerque elder law attorneys have extensive experience litigating such claims. We will provide you with regular updates about your case status so that you remain informed throughout the legal process.
In New Mexico and across the U.S., the overwhelming majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled through negotiations, thereby avoiding prolonged litigation. In most respects, this is a good thing. If you or someone in your family has suffered serious injuries, or a family member has died due to the negligence of another individual, a lengthy court battle can be emotionally taxing at a time when you are already coping with significant challenges.
It is important to realize, however, that the attorney you choose to represent you has a significant impact on the outcome of your case. Whether your case is resolved through negotiations or through litigation, you need a lawyer who has a thorough knowledge of the law and a proven ability to obtain full value for your injury or loss.
In order to negotiate from a position of strength, it is critical for your attorney to have a strong track record in cases that have gone to trial. The attorneys at The Harvey & Foote Law Firm, LLC in Albuquerque are highly regarded for their thorough preparation of cases and the ability to present a strong argument in court.
You Deserve Dedicated Representation Since 2005 our team has been solely dedicated to protecting the rights of those injured and mistreated in nursing homes throughout the state. We know and understand how the system works and how to obtain the best possible outcome on your behalf.
You Deserve New Mexico Advocates At Harvey & Foote we are New Mexico-based attorneys who understand how scary and difficult this time can be. When you work with us, you can guarantee that you, your family, and your case are of the highest priority to us.
You Deserve an Experienced Legal Team Our attorneys have handled thousands of cases and are true legal innovators when it comes to pursuing cases. We have the tools, resources, and knowledge to properly obtain maximum compensation on your behalf.
You Deserve Maximum Compensation Our team is committed to standing up for the injured in New Mexico. When you or your loved one have been harmed because of someone else's negligence, you don't just deserve compensation, you deserve justice.