What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is any act that results in the physical harm of the elder. In most states, elder persons are defined as those over sixty years old, but some states’ definition is sixty-five years. It can also include emotional and mental harm to an elder. It’s often broken down into passive and active forms of abuse.
The key for passive abuse is negligence, whereas active abuse involves an intentional failure to meet the elder’s needs. Active abuse usually occurs when there is hostile tension between the elder and caregiver, which can lead to criminal charges.
On the other hand, elder neglect involves lack of proper care given to an elder. Elder neglect and elder abuse are often used synonymously, but there are some distinctives. Abuse is an intentional and deliberate act that causes harm or serious risk to a vulnerable adult.
While negligence is a type of abuse, a major difference is that neglect is generally a lack of action resulting in the failure to fulfill care taking obligations. Passive neglect is unintentional and can be the result of an overwhelmed caregiver or an undertrained caregiver. Active neglect is an intentional disregard for the needs of a senior – which could be confused for abuse, but there is in fact a category for intentional disregard that lands in the neglect category.
Examples of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can take many forms and is not limited to physical abuse:
- Physical Abuse: The use of force against an elder to inflict pain or injury.
- Healthcare Fraud or Abuse: This could involve overcharging for services, charging for services not administered, or recommending fraudulent medicine or treatment.
- Sexual Abuse: A non-consensual sexual act of any kind.
- Emotional or psychological abuse: This can include ignorance, intimidation, or threats.
- Exploitation: The use of the elder’s assets without authorization or the the manipulation of the adult to make purchases.
Elder Abuse Laws in South Carolina
Elder abuse laws are relatively similar across most states, however nomenclature and terminology can vary. In South Carolina, we use the term “vulnerable adult:” a person 18 years of age or older who has a physical or mental condition which prevents them from providing for his or her own care or protection. Included under this distinction are those “advanced in age.”
In South Carolina, the protection of vulnerable adults is covered by SC Code 43-35-5, which details all of the situations listed above.
When to Get a Lawyer
If you believe you or someone you know has been victim to elder abuse or elder neglect in South Carolina, you may be able to pursue justice in the South Carolina courts. It would likely be beneficial to begin a conversation with an experienced lawyer or attorney as soon as possible. Fayssoux and Landis are experienced in these kinds of cases – don’t hesitate to contact us.
Paul Landis is an attorney at Fayssoux and Landis law firm. Paul specializes in personal injury law, business litigation, and medical malpractice law. Paul is a top 40 under 40 US Trial Lawyer. Learn more about Paul.