Elder abuse is a problem that continues to grow, requiring each state to make its own laws in addition to pre-existing federal mandates. Florida, like many states, has taken the time to address this issue in the hopes of eliminating the problem or, at the very least, making families aware that this type of abuse is occurring. Learning more about the laws designed to protect the elderly can help you ensure your own elderly loved ones are safe from harm.
What Does Florida Law Say About Elder Abuse?
Florida’s laws governing elder abuse are similar to those laws in other states, particularly in defining what constitutes the abuse, exploitation, or neglect of the elderly. The law states that the act may be carried out, as in using force on an elderly person, or it may merely be threatened. If the threat is enough to intimidate, frighten, or compel the elderly individual to behave in a certain way, that’s enough to establish abuse.
Additionally, the abuse can be inflicted by anyone who comes in contact with the elderly individual. A family member, caregiver, or nursing home staff member may be charged with abuse. Under the law, this includes neglect, such as the neglect that can occur in understaffed nursing homes. If the individual isn’t receiving the care that the facility has pledged to provide, this constitutes neglect under the law.
In addition to neglect, the following types of abuse may be committed against an elderly individual:
- Physical abuse – The use of force or the threat of force to frighten or harm the individual.
- Emotional abuse – The use of intimidation, threats, or verbal insults to humiliate or frighten the individual.
- Sexual abuse – Any type of unwanted or non-consensual sexual contact, which can be committed by a family member, caregiver, or another senior.
- Financial exploitation – Using fraud, coercion, or outright theft to illegally obtain money or personal assets from the elderly individual.
Helping an Abused Loved One
There are many ways that you can help your elderly loved one get out of an abusive situation, beginning with filing criminal charges. Since there are state and federal laws in place, you can file a complaint with police that may result in criminal charges being filed. However, just like any criminal case, you will have to be able to provide evidence of the abuse. This may include medical treatment for frequent injuries, photos of physical bruises on the elder’s body, or, in cases of neglect, photos of unsatisfactory living conditions.
You may also want to contact Florida’s Department of Adult Protective Services. Similar to Child Protective Services, this is an agency that will evaluate the condition and take legal action to protect the elderly individual. Intervention from this agency may even make it easier to see a victory in criminal court.
If you do believe that abuse has been committed against your elderly loved one, contacting William Hanlon St Petersburg Criminal Lawyer can help. The experience of an attorney can be especially useful in gathering evidence to prove that abuse has taken place. While physical and sexual abuse is easier to prove, you may need the expertise of a professional to find evidence that shows emotional abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect.
Even if you plan to file a civil suit to recover damages for your elderly loved one, the criminal case is often the first step. Obtaining a conviction can make it easier to obtain a settlement offer in a personal injury claim. If the case does go to civil court, much of the evidence you need will already have been collected for the criminal trial. The help of a criminal attorney can help you protect your elderly loved one from future abuse and help resolve any abuse, exploitation, or neglect currently being inflicted upon your elderly loved one.