Nearly 11% of elderly Americans face abuse over the period of a year. Often, the elderly are totally dependent on someone who abuses them, and they feel unable to complain because they are afraid of the repercussions. People who live in nursing homes and mental health facilities are often victims of abuse, which can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial. In some cases, the abuse is neglect rather than an affirmative act. It can be difficult for a family to know when abuse is occurring. However, if you suspect your loved one was the victim of elder abuse, you should explore civil and criminal options. Dedicated injury attorney Mark Hartsoe may be able to assist Knoxville residents in bringing a claim for damages.Elder Abuse in Tennessee
Common signs of abuse include frequent injuries without explanation, bruises and burns, passive or withdrawn behavior, injuries appearing after someone has not been seen for multiple days, difficulty sitting or walking, fear of being alone with caretakers, reports of sexual assault, malnutrition, fatigue, lack of personal cleanliness, and billing for medical services that are not actually performed.
There are both federal and state laws that prohibit elder abuse. The Tennessee Adult Protection Act (TAPA) defines elder abuse or neglect as the infliction on an adult of physical pain, injury, or mental anguish. It is also defined as a caretaker's deprivation of services needed by an adult to maintain his or her health and welfare. "Adult" is defined as someone 18 years or older who because of mental or physical dysfunction or advancing age cannot manage his or her resources and carry out daily living activities without assistance.
In Tennessee, anyone who has reasonable cause to suspect there has been elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation is required to report this to the appropriate law enforcement agency. It is a misdemeanor to knowingly fail to report neglect or abuse. The supervisors must formally investigate and may need to call protective services or take action against the perpetrator.
Under T.C.A. § 71-6-119, willful physical abuse or gross neglect can result in a criminal aggravated assault charge. However, the elderly person or someone acting on his or her behalf can also sue for compensatory damages for neglect, abuse, exploitation, or theft by fraud, coercion, or deceit under T.C.A. § 71-6-120(b). The compensation includes reasonable expenses. In some cases of egregious abuse, punitive damages are also available. Moreover, if a plaintiff can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the abuse, neglect, or exploitation was the result of intentional, malicious, or fraudulent conduct, he or she can recover reasonable attorneys' fees.
One type of elder abuse includes marrying an elderly person in order to control him or her. As part of a judgment in an elder abuse case, the court can declare as void and unenforceable a marriage that is entered into as part of an abuse or exploitation scheme.Hold Negligent Parties Accountable by Enlisting a Knoxville Attorney
Often, victims of elder abuse are unaware of how to report abuse or fear retaliation. However, a family member can stop this abuse from happening by monitoring the elderly person and reporting any suspected neglect or abuse to the Tennessee Department of Human Services. Moreover, nursing home negligence lawyer Mark Hartsoe can help individuals and families in Knoxville or the surrounding communities seek appropriate compensation. For a free initial consultation, call (865) 524-5657 or contact us via our online form.