Washington’s senior citizens deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Unfortunately, as the Baby Boomer generation ages, more seniors may experience elder abuse and neglect. In fact, the Department of Health & Human Services Administration on Aging reports hundreds of thousands of older adults are mistreated each year in the United States. Such abuse can come at the hands of a nursing home worker, attendant nurse or other trusted professional. The results can be emotionally and physically devastating, not only for the victim, but also for the victim’s family and loved ones.
The State of Washington takes the matter of elder abuse and exploitation seriously. Chapter 74.34 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) outlines the legal protocol in the event of the abuse of vulnerable adults. You may have the right to pursue compensation on behalf of a senior parent or spouse who has been the victim of mistreatment, including physical or emotional abuse. Damages may be available to address your loved one’s medical care, pain and suffering, and other losses.
We respect the emotional and legal complexity of pursuing an elder abuse claim and treat such cases with the discretion and compassion they deserve. Below, we have provided information to help you understand your options as you move forward.
What should I do if I suspect my loved one has been abused?
Your first priority is to remove your loved one from a situation in which he or she could be in imminent danger. Promptly alert authorities to the suspected abuse or neglect. You may contact the state’s EndHarm reporting hotline at 866-363-4276. You also may contact Snohomish County’s Adult Protective Services if the suspected abuse takes place in your loved one’s own home – 800-487-0416.
Secure any evidence associated with the abuse or neglect. This may include:
- photos of injuries;
- records of a nursing home’s previous citations for abuse or other violations;
- physicians’ statements; and
An attorney can assist in gathering the evidence necessary to initiate a claim against the party responsible for the abuse.
What are the most frequent signs of elder abuse?
Elder abuse can manifest in a number of ways, including:
- physical abuse;
- emotional abuse;
- sexual abuse;
- financial exploitation; and
The signs of abuse vary with the nature of the mistreatment. Common warning signs include:
- unexplained bruising;
- rapid weight loss; and
Some signs of abuse may go undetected. Be alert for sudden changes in a loved one’s demeanor, such as increased anxiety or social and emotional withdrawal.
What are Washington’s state laws to protect my senior loved one?
Washington law provides for criminal and civil penalties against those who commit abuse against vulnerable adults. The law provides you the right to press charges against a person or organization that caused injury to your loved one. It also gives the injured adult the right to seek financial damages from the liable party. Damages may include:
- compensation for injuries (including medical care);
- pain and suffering;
- loss of personal property; and
- recovery of reasonable attorney’s fees.
You may have grounds to file suit on your loved one’s behalf if he or she is incapacitated and unable to do so.
Who should I contact when I’m ready to take action?
You may schedule a confidential, case evaluation with the Deno Millikan Law Firm by calling (425) 259-2222.