Claim for the Abuse of an Elderly Relative
Claiming Compensation for Elder Abuse
If you have an elderly family member, who has suffered physical or emotional harm due to somebody with a responsibility for their care mistreating them, it may be possible to make a claim for the abuse of an elderly relative. Even if the victim of abuse is incapable of claiming compensation for elder abuse by themselves, a family member can make a claim on their behalf acting as a “next friend”.
Claims for the mistreatment of an elderly family member are particularly complicated because it is very rare for an older victim of abuse to voluntarily admit they have been mistreated. However claiming compensation for elder abuse can help you get answers to why they were mistreated, and why safeguards meant to prevent the mistreatment of the elderly failed to work.
Indicators of Elder Abuse
Very few victims of elder abuse are prepared to admit they have been mistreated because of being embarrassed in front of their families or because they fear repercussions for airing their allegations. However, there are indicators of elder abuse that family members may identify that can establish whether it is possible to make claims for the mistreatment of an elderly family member.
Although signs of physical abuse are more apparent, fewer than 12% of complaints made to the authorities last year were related to physical injury. More commonly, elderly family members suffered psychological abuse, financial abuse or neglect; with some victims being sexually abused or discriminated against because of their race or sexual orientation.
Typically, personality changes when certain people enter or leave a room are good indicators of elder abuse. Victims may also suffer side effects from the incorrect administration of medication, or have irregular eating or sleeping patterns. What can confuse the issue is when victims are displaying multiple indicators of elder abuse – implying that they are being mistreated in more ways than one.
Reporting the Mistreatment of an Elderly Family Member
If you believe that an elderly relative has been abused by somebody that owed them a duty of care, you should make a formal complaint to the organisation responsible for their care. In situations where you believe that the elderly relative may be in danger, you should call the emergency services or the social services to have them hospitalised or relocated elsewhere.
An investigation will be conducted to determine whether your relative has been mistreated or suffered elder abuse – the benchmark definition of elder abuse being “A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates human and civil rights”.
You should never confront the alleged abuser directly, and it is in your best interests to seek legal advice – even before the investigation has been concluded and the results known. A solicitor can assist you with issues such as hospitalisation and relocation, and guide you about any other actions that need to be taken before you can make claims for the mistreatment of an elderly family member.
Making Claims for the Mistreatment of an Elderly Family Member
In order to make claims for the mistreatment of an elderly family member, it will have to be demonstrated that somebody with responsibility for the elderly person´s care was liable for their injuries. This is not necessarily the abuser, but possibly an organisation that should have provided adequate supervision or monitored the care (or lack thereof) that was being provided.
Consequently, a claim for the abuse of an elderly relative might not be made against the abuser themselves – although criminal charges may be made against the abuser after the conclusion of an investigation. However, irrespective of who is at fault, you will need a solicitor to claim compensation for elder abuse as the Injuries Board has no mandate to process claims of this nature.
Your solicitor will conduct his or her own investigation into the circumstances of the elderly relative´s abuse and – with the help of medical and psychological experts – compile the strongest possible claim for the abuse of an elderly relative. Provided the claim is worthwhile pursuing, your solicitor will write to the negligent party and advise them that you are claiming compensation for elder abuse.
Settling a Claim for the Abuse of an Elderly Relative
Once the letter of claim has been received, the negligent party has two options – either negotiate a settlement of compensation for elder abuse, or contest the claim. If liability is accepted, you solicitor will use the reports made by the medical and psychological experts to negotiate the maximum possible settlement of compensation.
If liability is denied – or no agreement can be reached on how much compensation for elder abuse your relative should receive – it may be necessary to take the claim to litigation. This could result in a court appearance, in which you and your mistreated relative may be required to give evidence. This depends on the nature of the abuse and the perpetrator or organisation defending the claim.
If you have represented your elderly relative as a “next friend”, a court appearance will be necessary for the settlement of the claim for the abuse of an elderly relative to be approved. This is a necessary procedure to ensure that the settlement is in the best interests of the relative that has been abused, and to make sure that the “next friend” managing the compensation settlement is an “appropriate person”.
Speak with a Solicitor about Compensation for Elder Abuse
The Statute of Limitations in Ireland allows a plaintiff or their “next friend” a period of two years after elder abuse has been confirmed to make claims for the mistreatment of an elderly family member. However, it is in your best interests to speak with a solicitor about making a claim for the abuse of an elderly relative at the first practical opportunity.
Not only will a solicitor be able to assist with such hospitalisation or relocation, he or she will be able to give you advice which is relevant to the specific situation of the abused person, and help you compile a formal letter of complaint if you have submitted one. Speaking with a solicitor will also give him or her the maximum possible time to compile a claim for the abuse of an elderly relative on your behalf.
Claiming compensation for elder abuse can help you get answers to why your relative was mistreated, and why safeguards meant to prevent their mistreatment failed to work. Often this is more important to families than the settlement of claims for the mistreatment of an elderly family member. There is a higher likelihood of getting the answers you want if you speak with a solicitor as soon as possible.