As the population of senior citizens has increased, so has the concern for their well-being. Both the federal and state governments have passed laws protecting senior citizens from acts of abuse and neglect at the hands of caregivers, family members, and financial scammers.
Typical signs of elder abuse include:
- Pushing, striking, or restraining;
- Screaming, insulting, or threatening;
- Isolating the person from his friends or family members;
- Abusing the person sexually;
- Not providing medicine, medical care, or food;
- Overmedicating; and
- Stealing or misusing the person’s money or property.
Under Louisiana law, certain people must report elder abuse, also known as nursing home abuse. These people include “health, mental health, and social practitioner” who suspect abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Reports must be made to an adult protection agency or a law enforcement agency. The identity of persons who make good faith reports of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation is confidential. This means that the identity of the informant cannot be released unless he consents. There is a major exception that allows police pursuing a criminal complaint to know who made the report.
To encourage people to make reports, state law provides penalties for those who fail to act or who make false reports. A person who knows of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation but fails to report it may be fined up to $500, may go to jail for up to six months, or both. A person who makes a false report may be fined up to $1000, put in prison for no more than one year, or both.
The law also protects people who make good faith reports of elder abuse. It provides that those who make good faith reports of abuse “shall have immunity from civil or criminal liability that otherwise might be incurred or imposed.” In other words, they cannot be sued if they made honest reports of possible abuse.
Reports of elder/nursing home abuse may be made to any adult protective service or law enforcement agency. The state Department of Health & Hospitals Office of Aging & Adult Services operates a hotline for reporting adult and elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. The number is (800) 898-4910. The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office operates a hotline for reporting fraud committed against seniors. That number is (800) 351-4889.
Abuse of the elderly is intolerable. If you are deciding whether to bring a lawsuit for elder abuse, Wright Pichon & Gray can help. We are experienced in Louisiana law, and we will help get you a fair result. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact our experienced lawyers today at (504) 264-5552.