Increase in Elder Abuse in Florida
Unfortunately, you read that correctly: abuse of the elderly is on the rise in the State of Florida.
The more familiar types of personal injury cases involve car accidents and slip & falls. But as our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, elderly individuals who have suffered neglect and/or abuse at the hands of liable, negligent parties (including acquaintances, caretakers, and assisted living and nursing home facilities) might also have a personal injury case. Neglect or abuse of elderly individuals—just like the neglect or abuse of anyone else—can trigger both civil liability as well as criminal responsibility. So while elder abuse can be a crime, prosecuted by the government, it may very well also be a tort, which can create a civil cause of action allowing the victim and/or their representative to sue the liable party for damages.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, there is no federal agency which keeps detailed and comprehensive statistics on the number of elderly individuals who suffer abuse and neglect; however, dozens of social services and other government departments track those sorts of statistics on local and state levels. In Florida, it is the case that the number of “verified cases of elder abuse and neglect” has increased by a whopping 74% since just 2011 (according to the Florida Department of Children and Families).
Last year alone, the number of verified cases of elder abuse and neglect in the State of Florida was 2,525. While this number may seem high—it is—our personal injury lawyers know that, unfortunately, the true number of cases of elder abuse and neglect is almost assuredly far higher. For each case of elder abuse which is reported and verified, thus becoming a “verified case” included in the statistics, there are likely many more which go unreported due to shame, embarrassment, or fear that reporting the harm will simply lead to worsened abuse.
Since 2011, in Florida, more than 800 people have been charged with elder abuse and neglect, and more than 370 have been convicted or sentenced—this doesn’t mean that the rest were found not to have engaged in elder abuse, just that they were not convicted or sentenced, which means that they could have opted for plea deals, diversion programs, etc. As we noted above, criminal punishment is not the only potential consequence one faces for committing elder neglect or abuse. Depending on the situation, as our personal injury lawyers know, the victim and/or his or her family can bring an action in negligence against the person and/or facility who neglected the elderly individual in an effort to collect damages for physical injuries, pain and suffering, increased medical costs, etc.
As our personal injury lawyers know, elder neglect and abuse often comes with symptoms, so if you are concerned about an elderly friend or family member, be on the lookout for some possible signs of elder abuse, including bedsores, unexplained injuries, wounds and/or cuts, rapid weight loss or weight gain, etc. Be sure to remember that the presence of any of these (or even all of them) does not necessarily mean that your loved one is suffering abuse and/or neglect, only that it might be a good idea to take a closer look and make sure they are safe and being cared for properly.
If you believe that you or a loved one have suffered elder abuse or neglect, make sure to contact the appropriate law enforcement authorities and then contact an experienced personal injury lawyer such as one of our skilled attorneys at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green. To schedule a free consultation, you may call us at 561-266-9191 or you may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to assisting you.