Elder abuse and neglect are widespread problems. These acts have the potential to destroy lives and put an incredible amount of stress on families.
Personal injury law is unique in these types of cases. Also, as the population ages, the law will probably change rapidly to suit the needs of elders.
How common is elder abuse?
According to the World Health Organization, over 15 percent of people 60 years old or older have been the victims of abuse. However, this number only represents the events that have official reports. The WHO goes on to state that only a very small percentage of cases ever come to light.
There are many different types of injuries that could arise from these types of acts. Possibilities include bruises, cuts, psychological damage, emotional damage and long-term decline in physical health.
What happens when people abuse elders?
To understand the disposition of the court towards these types of injuries, it could be useful to look at an extreme case. There is no more extreme injury than death.
FindLaw provides some insight into wrongful death cases involving elders. To review, the main issue in this area of law with seniors is that many types of economic awards come from future wages and earnings. A young adult with a promising career would have a significant amount of potential lifetime earnings, for example. An elderly nursing home resident would probably have less potential to earn money.
There are other factors to consider, however. How heinous were the injuries leading up to the death? What was the depth of the relationship between the family and the elderly family member?
Pain and suffering are losses that transcend economic concerns. However, they often must come into definition during the quantitative personal injury settlement and trial process.