In addition to the federal Nursing Home Reform Act, which applies to any certified nursing facility that receives Medicare, California has enacted a number of state laws to protect its elderly population. California elder car laws have two primary laws which are the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (the “Elder Abuse Act”), which can be found at § 156000 of the California Welfare & Institutions Code, and California Penal Code § 368.
California Elder Abuse Act
Unlike the federal statutes, California’s Elder Abuse Act provides plaintiffs with a private right of action in cases where they can show clear and convincing evidence of physical abuse, reckless neglect, or fiduciary (financial) abuse. California is currently the only state with Elder Abuse laws.
The Elder Abuse Act also permits recovery of damages for pain and suffering even after the victim has died. Where attorneys were previously unwilling to take abuse cases for deceased victims, the law now permits them to recover compensatory and punitive damages post mortem.
California Elder Care Law – Penal Code § 368
In addition to civil remedies provided under California’s Elder Abuse Act, CPC § 368 sets forth a number of criminal penalties to further protect elders and dependent adults. Under California Penal Code § 368, it’s a crime to willfully injure (physically or mentally) or neglect anyone over the age of 65. Defendants found guilty of elder abuse may be punished by a fine of up to $6,000 and imprisonment up to four years in a state prison. The punishment can be enhanced if the victim suffers great bodily injury.
Since its original passage, California Penal Code § 368 has been amended to make theft or embezzlement from an elderly or dependent adult a crime. If the value of the items stolen is over $400, it’s a felony.
Although California has one of the most proactive and comprehensive set of elder abuse statutes, nearly one in five nursing homes in the greater Los Angeles area have been cited for abuse or neglect. Furthermore, a 2003 General Accounting Office report found that only 4 percent of the more than 400 elder care facilities statewide were in substantial compliance with federal law. On average, each nursing home facility had over nine violations and many were repeat offenders.
If you or a loved one has been injured by nursing home abuse or neglect, you may be entitled to damages. The experienced elder care attorneys at Makarem & Associates can help you get compensated for your injuries, and prevent future cases of elder abuse and neglect from occurring. Ron Makarem has successfully litigated a number of elder law cases, and has been a member of the National Academy of Elder Abuse Attorneys. We understand that it can be difficulty to come forward with claims of abuse and neglect, and we’re here to help. Contact us today by phone 310.312.0299 or email [email protected] to discuss your case.