In recent years, South Carolina has the reputation as one of the worst states in the nation in terms of protecting its elderly population. As our elders age, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, but unfortunately this doesn’t always happen. Elder abuse might occur at home by a family member or in an assisted living or nursing care facility.
If you are being abused or suspect that your parent or another elder that you love is being abused, your first priority must be to stop the abuse. You can report elder abuse to South Carolina’s Department of Social Services online.
As a victim of elder abuse, you or your loved one might be entitled to compensation from the perpetrators or those answerable for their conduct. Money cannot fix the psychological harm done to you or your loved one, but it might be able to provide better care. If you live in the Greenville area, call Hughey Law Firm at (843) 881-8644 to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we may be able to help.
Our Results in Elder Abuse Cases
Hughey Law Firm has represented dozens of clients in elder abuse cases in which accidents and injuries occurred in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and private homes. Recent examples of results include an $875,000 settlement for a client with a broken neck and pelvis from a wheelchair accident at an assisted living facility, two $500,000 settlements for neglected nursing home residents who had bed sores, and $440,000 for a nursing home patient who was neglected and suffered falls and a broken arm. These are examples, but they do not guarantee results in a particular case. The legal team at Hughey Law Firm will work to get the best possible outcome for the specific circumstances of each client’s elder abuse case.
South Carolina’s Elder Abuse Epidemic
California is the only state that scored worse than South Carolina for elder-abuse protections. California and Rhode Island tied South Carolina for the most elder abuse, gross negligence, and exploitation complaints.
Maybe this is due to a lack of resources—Georgia, Maine, and Missouri tied with South Carolina for the least total expenditures for elder abuse prevention.
Medicare allows people to compare the quality of local nursing homes. A high score here doesn’t guarantee quality, but it’s worth checking before you or a loved one moves into a nursing home.
How South Carolina Law Defines Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is an umbrella term often used to refer to abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an aging person. South Carolina’s Omnibus Adult Protection Act clearly defines the wrongful and/or negligent acts that broadly constitute elder abuse:
- Physical abuse means the intentional infliction of harm by action or the failure to act. It includes slapping hitting, kicking, biting, choking, pinching, burning, sexual battery, improper use of medication, and confinement.
- Psychological abuse means intentionally threatening or harassing an elder which results in emotional distress and feelings of fear, humiliation, confusion, and more.
- Neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to provide for the needs of an elder, such as food, clothing, shelter, medicine and medical care and includes the inability of the elder to provide self-care, resulting in harm, injury, or death.
- Exploitation most often refers to the financial abuse of an elder, but South Carolina law includes forcing an elder to engage in any improper or unlawful activity as a broad definition of exploitation. It also includes the illegal use of funds, assets, and property as well as using one’s power of attorney to take advantage of these things. Those who harass, coerce, defraud, or otherwise try to pressure an elder to purchase goods and services for profit are also guilty of exploitation.
The Serious Consequences of Elder Abuse
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that elder abuse has a wide range of impacts on all levels that are physical, psychological, financial, and social in nature. They include:
- Injuries from neglect and abuse that might include bruises, welts, wounds, broken bones, bed sores
- Continued pain and soreness
- Malnutrition and dehydration issues
- Sleep problems
- Higher risk of death
- Emotional distress
- An overall decline in mental health
- Economic losses for businesses, families, and elders when exploitation occurs
- Increased reliance on federal healthcare programs
- Financial abuse costs elders more than $2.6 billion dollars per year in the U.S.
- Increased withdrawal that leads to isolation
- Decreased social resources
- Increased spending on services to rehabilitate victims of elder abuse
Potential Damages Recoverable in Elder Abuse Matters
If you or an elder that you love has been abused, you might be able to avoid some of the financial and social impacts of elder abuse by pursuing legal action to recover damages related to physical and psychological injuries. Damages that are most often awarded by the court in cases of elder abuse compensate victims for the following things:
- Medical expenses including ambulance and emergency services, hospitalization, doctor visits, X-rays, prescription medications and more
- Rehabilitation costs including physical therapy and assistive devices such as walkers, wheelchairs, and canes
- 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
In elder abuse cases that include gross negligence or an intention to harm someone, a South Carolina court may also award punitive damages to punish those who are liable for a wrongful act. South Carolina limits punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever amount is greater.
Contact an Experienced Elder Abuse Lawyer in Greenville
Being abused, neglected, or exploited brings a great deal of emotional, physical, and financial stress to victims and those who care about them. If you are being abused or suspect abuse, you don’t have to fight alone. An experienced personal injury attorney who has handled elder abuse cases can guide you through the legal process and help to hold those accountable who have injured you or your loved one.
You do not have to worry about paying attorney fees up front. At the Hughey Law Firm, we offer free initial consultations with one of our experienced elder abuse lawyers. In many cases, we will agree to represent a client on contingency. This means we will collect fees from any settlement or court-awarded verdict that we secure for our client.
If you or an elder who you love have been neglected or abused at home or in a nursing care facility, the first priority is to stop the abuse. An experienced lawyer can advocate for you and make sure the abuse stops. If you are the loved one of a victim, seek justice by hiring a skilled elder abuse lawyer in Greenville who can fight for the compensation you and your loved one deserve. Contact Hughey Law Firm online or at (843) 881-8644 for a free consultation.