If your loved one was injured, made ill, or abused because of their vulnerable status, the personal injury attorneys at Sand Law can help! Read on to learn more about injuries to vulnerable adults.
Who is considered a vulnerable adult?
A vulnerable adult is defined as a person over the age of 18 who is unable to meet their own needs without the assistance of another person. This can include people who have mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness, a disability, those who are in advanced age, or people with chronic addiction to drugs or alcohol. Vulnerable adult abuse can occur between close family members, anyone taking care of a vulnerable adult, or in a nursing home or senior center. Unfortunately, this type of abuse is common and there are many circumstances in which this type of abuse can occur.
Often, vulnerable adult abuse is hard to detect or report. It’s important to look for signs of abuse in your vulnerable family members. These signs can appear as a change in mental state, new bruises or injuries, or a new lack of communication. These signs may differ depending on the person, so it’s important to pay close attention to the vulnerable adult in your life to see if they seem different or “off” in any way.
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse. They also estimate that over 5 million elders are abused each year while only 1 in 14 cases are actually reported to the authorities.
If you notice changes in a vulnerable loved one, you may be able to help them receive compensation for the wrong that has been done to them. As it can be hard for a vulnerable adult to take action themselves, sometimes it’s up to a third-party advocate to speak up for them. An experienced Minnesota vulnerable adult abuse lawyer can help you and your family to navigate this often complicated but necessary process.
Types of Vulnerable Adult Abuse
Vulnerable adult abuse can come in many different forms and can also occur simultaneously. A vulnerable adult may experience multiple forms of abuse at the same time, depending on their situation.
No matter the type of abuse, you may be able to file a lawsuit to hold perpetrators accountable, meaning the victim of the abuse may be able to receive compensation for the wrongs that have been done to them with the help of an experienced attorney.
Physical abuse is described as any intentional bodily injury. This can include slapping, pushing, choking, shoving, or any physical interaction that causes injury to the vulnerable party. Physical abuse can also include the forced use of drugs or the physical restraining of the vulnerable party.
Physical abuse can not only seriously injure a vulnerable party, but it often results in emotional abuse too.
This type of abuse, and most types of abuse, also carry an aspect of trauma with them as well, as these events can be traumatizing for the vulnerable adult. Signs of physical abuse can include new bruises or injuries, decreased movement, lack of willingness to go out, sudden change in behavior, and even the caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see the vulnerable adult alone.
Mental and Emotional Abuse
Mental and emotional abuse can be harder to spot as there aren’t any physical signs of the abuse occurring. This abuse can include intimidation, coercion, harassment, ridiculing, treating the adult like a child, isolating the adult, use of silence to control the adult’s behavior, and yelling or swearing at the adult.
While this type of abuse doesn’t cause any physical pain, it can often cause just as much pain. The abusing party can also still be subject to a lawsuit for the poor treatment of the vulnerable adult. Mental abuse also often goes hand-in-hand with physical abuse.
Sexual abuse refers to any nonconsensual sexual contact with a vulnerable adult. In these types of situations, vulnerable adults may not even be able to offer consent to sexual activity of any kind, especially in people with diminished capacity.
Sexual abuse can include unwanted touching, rape, coerced nudity, explicit photographing, or sexual harassment.
Neglect is especially harmful when it comes to vulnerable adults, as they often require a lot of care to get through their days. If their caregiver is neglectful of them, it can result in serious injury or even fatality, especially if the vulnerable adult requires medication each day.
Neglect occurs when a caretaker, through action or inaction, fails to properly take care of the vulnerable adult. Examples include not providing medicine, food, water, proper clothing, a proper place to live, or even health care. Vulnerable adults rely on their caregivers to take care of them and sometimes to even keep them alive.
What should I do if suspect abuse?
Start by speaking to the person in private. Mention why you are talking to them and some of the things you’ve noticed. Be sure to let them talk about the concerns as much or as little as they would like. It’s possible that if they are being abused they may be reluctant to talk about it. That is okay. You should still share your concerns with someone else.
If an adult is being abused or neglected it is important that you get them help. If possible, ask the person what they would like to see done about the situation. If this is not an option, you should proceed on your own to make sure that situation is resolved.
Speak to others who know the adult and find out what they know. This could be other nursing home residents or maybe a family member that visits with them. Pass on your concerns to their doctor or to their social worker, if they have one.
If you suspect the situation is serious, contact the police right away. In dire situations, leaving a person in a situation for even one more night can cause serious harm.
Contact a Vulnerable Adult Injury and Abuse Lawyer in Minnesota
No matter the reason for the abuse, you’ll always want to contact an attorney to help you build a case for your loved one. Seeking help from a personal injury attorney will allow the vulnerable adult to get justice for their mistreatment as well as receive compensation for any medical bills and pain and suffering that they have experienced.
The lawyers at Sand Law are here to help you and your family get compensation. We have years of experience making wrongs right for individuals who suffer from abuse. For more information, please contact us online or call us at 651-291-7263.