In state rankings of elder abuse rates and elder protections, South Carolina consistently ranks as one of the worst states for elders. In 2018, a national study of U.S. states ranked South Carolina 50th for elder abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation complaints, 46th for state spending on the prevention of elder abuse, and overall the worst state for protecting its elders. Our loved ones deserve superior care and treatment as they age, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Elder abuse can occur in a residential setting, assisted care facility, or nursing home.
If you suspect that an elder you love has suffered abused, he or she might be entitled to compensation for any injuries sustained. While we understand that financial compensation will not undo the physical and emotional harm that elder abuse has on older adults, it can help provide better future care for your family member. If you live in the Florence area, call the Hughey Law Firm today at (843) 881-8644 to schedule a confidential and free consultation to discuss how we can help.
Our Results in Elder Abuse Cases
The legal team at the Hughey Law Firm has represented dozens of older adults and their families in elder abuse cases that involve nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and residential homes. Some of our past success in elder abuse cases includes securing a settlement of $875,000 for an assisted living facility resident who suffered a broken neck and pelvis from a wheelchair accident, two half-million dollar settlements for two separate elder abuse victims who sustained serious bedsores, and a $440,000 verdict for a neglected nursing home resident who sustained injuries in multiple falls. While we cannot guarantee a favorable result in your case, the attorneys at Hughey Law Firm strive for the best possible result in every case.
Elder Abuse in South Carolina
Broadly speaking, the term abuse is an umbrella term that can refer to physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, or the exploitation of another person. South Carolina’s Omnibus Adult Protection Act clearly defines elder abuse to include all of the following:
- Physical abuse includes intentional harm caused by action or inaction, such as hitting, kicking, choking, pinching, burning, sexually assaulting, over- or under-medicating, or confining an elderly individual for non-medical reasons.
- Psychological abuse is the deliberate subjection of an elder to threats, harassment, or other intimidating behavior, such as causing fear, humiliation, degradation, agitation, confusion, or other forms of emotional distress.
- Neglect occurs when a trusted caregiver doesn’t provide basic needs for an elder, such as food, clothing, shelter, and access to medical treatment. The elder must be unable to provide self-care and the negligence must result in harm, injury, or death for neglect to qualify as elder abuse.
- Exploitation involves forcing an elder to engage in improper or unlawful activity. Exploiting elders typically refers to financial abuse, including stealing money, valuables, credit cards, or property. In the worst cases, abusers sometimes steal an elder’s identity to open up new accounts or buy real estate. Any individual or business who harasses or defrauds an elder in a business transaction is also guilty of exploitation.
Impacts of Elder Abuse
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that elder abuse causes a wide array of negative impacts. Elder abuse is severely underreported, so some of these impacts might provide clues and insight into whether or not an elder that you love has been abused. The most common impacts include:
- Physical injuries, such as cuts, bruises, welts, bedsores, fractures, and more
- Pain and soreness from injuries
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Increased risk of fatality
- Mental anguish
- Anxiety and depression
- Aggression and agitation
- An overall mental health decline
- Economic losses for elders, their families, and businesses when abusers exploit elders
- Elders that have been financially abused must rely more heavily on federal healthcare programs
- Financial abuse costs elders more than $2.6 billion per year across the nation
- Economic losses for businesses, families, and elders when exploitation occurs
- Increased withdrawal from family, friends, and other residents, which can lead to unhealthy isolation
- Decreased social resources—resources spent to help elder abuse victims could be spent elsewhere
- Federal, state, and private entities must spend more to rehabilitate victims of elder abuse
Seeking Compensation for Elder Abuse Cases in South Carolina
If an elder that you love has been abused, you may be able to offset some of the financial and social impacts of elder abuse by seeking compensation for damages related to the injuries. In personal injury cases, South Carolina courts might award compensatory and punitive damages. Like many states, South Carolina only awards punitive damages in extreme cases that include intentional harm and gross neglect, and state law limits punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever amount is greater. Most damages are compensatory in nature and include:
- Medical treatment, including emergency services, hospitalization, doctor visits, radiology, medication, and more
- Rehabilitation costs, including physical therapy and assistive devices, such as walkers, wheelchairs, and canes
- Relocation costs if you need to move a family member from one facility to another because of neglect or abuse
- Physical pain and suffering related to injuries from abuse or neglect
- Emotional pain and suffering related to being abused, neglected, or exploited
- Restitution for financial exploitation or abuse
Retain an Experienced Florence Attorney for Your Loved One
If you suspect that an elder who you love is being abused, your first priority should be to stop the behavior. You can report elder abuse online to the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS), which will initiate an investigation. If you are a family member of a victim of elder abuse, you should focus on helping your loved one hold his or her abuser accountable. Hire a seasoned elder abuse lawyer to represent your loved one injured in Florida. Call the Hughey Law Firm at (843) 881-8644, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation and discuss the details of your case with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. We handle elder abuse cases in Florence on contingency, so we don’t recover attorney fees unless we secure compensation for your loved one.