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How to Initiate an Elder Abuse Claim if Your Loved One Has Dementia

Elder abuse is any wrongful decision or action that carelessly, recklessly, or intentionally harms someone over 60. It’s an unfortunately all too common form of personal injury that takes a devastating toll on older individuals and the people who care for them. Victims of elder abuse have significant legal rights to claim compensation from the parties who harmed them.

Initiating an elder abuse claim, however, can become complicated when the victim suffers from dementia. Protecting the victim from abuse and securing maximum compensation will often require taking legal action with the assistance of an experienced elder abuse attorney, like those at Dalli & Marino, LLP. Protecting your loved one with dementia is of the utmost importance, and we can help walk you through every step of your legal claim.

The Problem of Elder Abuse and Dementia

Elder abuse can constitute one or more of the following broad categories of careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful misconduct: 

  • Infliction of physical injuries or health problems
  • Infliction of emotional distress
  • Unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault
  • Theft or financial exploitation
  • Neglect or isolation of an elderly person

Abusers target elderly people because of their vulnerability. Few potential elder abuse victims are more vulnerable than those who suffer from dementia, as they are at an even more increased risk due to the added care they often need.  

Protecting the Rights of Those With Dementia

Dementia limits a person’s capacity to speak up for themselves. Frequently, that means that an individual suffering from dementia does not have the awareness or capacity to know they need legal help, much less to seek it out. Instead, it often falls to that person’s spouse, family, or trusted friends to step forward to act on their behalf. 

If you suspect that someone you love who suffers from dementia has fallen victim to elder abuse, the law may give you the ability to be appointed that person’s guardian. In New York, for example, laws permit the creation of a guardianship for incapacitated persons in some circumstances. A court can appoint a guardian empowered to conduct a person’s affairs when they’re unable to do so on their own, which can include enforcing their legal rights and advocating for their health and protection from elder abuse. 

Although courts often try to make it possible to petition for guardianship without the help of a lawyer, we strongly recommend that you consult with a qualified attorney before doing so when you suspect your loved one has suffered harm from elder abuse. Entrusting that process to an elder abuse attorney can help reduce stress and ensure the best outcome for your loved one. 

Initiating an Elder Abuse Claim as a Guardian

As the court-appointed guardian of a person with dementia, you have the right to pursue a lawsuit, insurance claim, or other action demanding justice and compensation for the harm caused to your loved one. Before initiating a claim, it may serve your loved one’s interests to authorize your lawyer to: 

  • Investigate the allegations and obtain evidence to support them, without alerting the alleged abuser to your suspicions if necessary
  • Take prompt action to facilitate moving your loved one out of harm’s way 
  • Contact relevant law enforcement authorities or regulators to discuss your concerns and potential action they could take
  • Identify the specific individuals or businesses who may have liability for abuse your loved one suffered
  • Evaluate insurance coverage available to pay for your loved one’s injuries and losses
  • Notify the suspected abuser’s employer of your allegations

The act of initiating a claim for monetary damages on your loved one’s behalf could take several forms. A lawyer might advise filing a lawsuit or submitting an insurance claim immediately, or they may believe it’s safe to wait until authorities have pursued official law enforcement or regulatory action.

Your obligation as a guardian will likely be to decide on the option that is in your loved one’s best physical, emotional, and financial interests, and to authorize the lawyer to act accordingly. An experienced lawyer can also help you connect with resources and support in your area to assist you in communicating with your loved one without causing upset or other complications.  

Contact an Experienced Elder Abuse Attorney at Dalli & Marino, LLP Today

It is a sad reality that aging people with dementia frequently fall victim to elder abuse. As someone who is in a position to help, the law may entitle you to petition to be appointed guardian for your loved one. And as a guardian, you have the ability to pursue legal action to seek justice and fair compensation for the elder abuse your loved one suffered.

Consulting with a knowledgeable elder abuse attorney is the best way to find a path forward that serves your loved one’s best interests. Dalli & Marino, LLP is a law firm with the experience and resources to help you navigate these troubled waters, and we will help you initiate your elder abuse claim to make sure your loved one’s rights are protected. We also speak Spanish. Fill out our contact form or call us at (888) 465-8790 for a free consultation.

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