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Practice Areas: Elder Abuse

People age 65 and over qualify for protection under California's Elder Abuse Act. Our elderly citizens are a source of a wealth of information and sometimes they have amassed great wealth. Many elders hold their families' wealth such as homes, savings and stock investments that have grown in value over many years during their lives while their children and grandchildren suffer financially in our current difficult economic environment. Family members are frequently unemployed and losing their homes and other assets. These elders are getting older and sometimes their age can cause physical and mental frailty, which can lead to confusion and memory loss. Those suffering from early signs of Alzheimer's disease may experience premature senile mental deterioration. This can make an elderly person am easy mark for abuse by family members and guardians. Even those who are fiduciaries, such as brokers, bankers and caregivers themselves may also be struggling financially to survive. Yet, they all have special duties to their elderly clients not to take financial advantage of them, but they do. Trades people, salesmen, neighbors and friends, mortgage and investment brokers and their companies might be motivated to target elders with financial ideas or gimmicks on how to invest and protect their savings and other assets just to earn a premium or commission. Some religious organizations focus on elders for their money. Elders might be easily influenced due to their impaired judgment, memory loss, fear, emotional and mental illness or maybe just because of the affects of brain tissue dying or failing due to the aging process. This makes elders vulnerable to cheaters and frauds when they involve what seem to be even the simplest and most transparent schemes. Elders lose their homes and end up on the streets even by those who we would think are bound ethically, morally and legally to care for them! These are all various forms of financial elder abuse which is an ever increasing problem.

Physical abuse and neglect are other areas of abuse as opposed to the financial mistreatment of elders. Elders living at home may not receive the attention they need because their families are incapable of providing that care, are simply not motivated or have any interest in meeting the elder's needs. Some elders are in day care or in full time facilities, and while these individuals, businesses or agencies are paid great sums of money (sometimes many thousands of dollars every month to address the needs and supervision of the elder), they are still the victims of carelessness and neglect, leading to privation, physical injury and/or trauma, emotional distress, disease and even death. They are ignored and isolated. Elders "cared" for by managed care systems seem to be particularly at risk since some physicians and/or other healthcare decision makers see very little financial gain in providing expensive attentiveness for those who may be chronically ill, and thus, more costly to care for. Lack of regard to attention can occur in nursing facilities that are contracted to provide for their daily needs. Elderly patients are frequently denied necessary, but expensive hospitalization, even when requested by the physician or family. Health care in managed care settings involving Medicare or insurance co-payments may be limited or not provided at all. This may occur as a way to save costs and be motivated by profits. This happens because the elder may be too frail to fight for his or her own rights or unable to mentally communicate with those who do care and would fight for them. They may be assaulted by their guardians and these elders simply become victims. This is physical elder abuse and neglect and it is outrageous and just wrong. That is why California created the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (Welf. & Inst.C. § 15657). We need to protect elders' rights and dignity from those who would financially abuse them whether they are family, neighbors, friends, fiduciaries, health care providers, medical and managed care facilities, insurance sales people, financial advisors, car sales people and others. Unfortunately, this list can be much greater and is not limited to those noted above. Just as physical abusers, rapists and those who neglect elders need to be stopped; these financial abusers must be held accountable. Elders' instructions and requests to health care providers concerning their medical treatment must also be protected. These individuals and institutional providers cannot be allowed to consciously disregard, ignore or even worse, treat elders with contempt. While it might not necessarily be evidence of medical malpractice, it is both morally wrong and also a blatant violation of California Probate Code Section 4733 which essentially states that a health care provider or health care institution providing care to a patient shall (with certain exceptions):

Comply with an individual patient's health care instruction or made by a person authorized to make health care decisions for the patient to the same extent as if the decision had been made by the patient while the patient had the mental capacity to choose that representative to make health care decisions for the patient and with a reasonable interpretation of the instruction(s) given.

Further, according to California Probate Code Section 4742 a health care provider or health care institution can be held liable and subject to penalties for intentional violations of patients' directions and any resulting damages as noted below in part:

"...is subject to liability to the aggrieved individual for damages of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) or actual damages resulting from the violation, whichever is greater, plus reasonable attorney's fees..."

Further, any "...person who intentionally falsifies, forges, conceals, defaces, or obliterates an individual's advance health care directive or a revocation of an advance health care directive without the individual's consent, or who coerces or fraudulently induces an individual to give, revoke, or not to give an advance health care directive, is subject to liability to that individual for damages of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or actual damages resulting from the action, whichever is greater, plus reasonable attorney's fees..."

These statutory violations may also be evidence of elder abuse and neglect entitling the elder to damages.

I will seek recovery from those who have abused the elder whether it is financial, physical abuse or neglect. Intentional, malicious misconduct or conscious disregard of the rights of the elder should not and can not be tolerated or it will continue. I will represent the elder and pursue those individuals, family members, trusted providers, fiduciaries or businesses that are responsible for such abuse. I am Robert J. Worth and I am the attorney who will fight for that elder that you care about. Please feel free to contact me at:

Law Offices of ROBERT J. WORTH
23801 Calabasas Road, Suite 2033
Calabasas, CA 91302
(818) 222-2433
(800) 978-1529
(818) 222-2139 (FAX)
worth4law@aol.com
www.worth4law.com