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    Elder Abuse Act and Your Rights: Who Can Sue for Elder Abuse in California?

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    Elder Abuse Act and Your Rights: Who Can Sue for Elder Abuse in California?

When people age and age, they reach a point where they rely on others to have a good quality of life. The elderly or dependent adults between the ages of 16 and 64 with physical and mental limitations may require in-home caretakers or move into a nursing home with staff available 24/7, attending to their every medical need and assisting them with their daily routine.

Unfortunately, the people who the elderly rely on the most to live a decent life are often the ones who perpetrate violence or abuse with the perception that they cannot take legal action. In most cases, that is true as the elderly are vulnerable and may feel scared approaching others for help if they’re experiencing abuse. In some cases, where the elderly cannot speak or have a lower cognitive function due to illnesses, they cannot communicate their pain and suffering to their loved ones.

Ehline Law and our elder abuse attorneys understand the physical and mental suffering victims and their loved ones go through in an elder abuse case. We are ready to fight aggressively for the compensation you deserve.

Elder Abuse Statistics

According to National Council on Aging, an estimated 1 in 10 adults over the age of 65 experience abuse, bringing the total up to 5 million elderly people abused in the United States each year. In 60% of all elder abuse cases, the perpetrator is a close relative or a family member, including adult children or spouses.

Types of Elder Abuse

When it comes to elder abuse, many think about the physical abuse perpetrated by an individual on the elderly. However, elder abuse is a broad term. Generally, it refers to harm or wrongdoing carried out on an elderly or dependent adult, and it can take different forms, including the following.

Physical Abuse

When nursing homes hire staff without conducting proper background checks or giving them the right training, it can lead to physical abuse incidents. 

The elderly might act irrationally, given their age, which can frustrate the young staff working at nursing homes, but that isn’t an excuse to abuse them physically. 

Although exerting unjustifiable physical pain is a serious offense and falls under criminal law, victims can pursue a lawsuit in civil courts against the perpetrator to obtain compensation.

Emotional Abuse

An elder or a dependent adult requires nursing homes or caretakers to care for their mental health. However, some caretakers who do not receive proper training emotionally abuse the elder or dependent adult by calling them names, cursing them, or threatening them, instilling fear and distrust. Such actions by the caretakers or the family members perpetrating the abuse can severely affect the elderly’s mental state.

Sexual Abuse

An elder or dependent adult with medical conditions such as memory loss, confusion, or similar illnesses is often the target of sexual abuse. Elder or dependent adults with physical or mental limitations cannot communicate the abuse to their loved ones or the nursing home’s management and become easy victims.

Elder Neglect

The caretaker, whether a nurse at a nursing home or the family members at their residence, must ensure that they tend to the elderly’s needs. From providing food and water to bathing and giving timely medications to ensure that the elderly can live a good quality of life. Neglect can cause serious damage to the elderly’s health, causing deterioration and, in extreme cases, death.

Financial Abuse

Physical and emotional abuse are not the only forms of elder abuse. It is unethical and against the law for caretakers to financially exploit the elderly, who may not have the mental capacity to understand when they’re being used for financial gains. 

Some perpetrators may trick the victim into wiring them money, others may add high costs during billing, and some downright steal from the victim, threatening them of abuse if the elderly speaks up.

Elder Abuse Act

The Elder Abuse Act covers elder abuse on elder and dependent adults (aged 18 to 64 who have physical or mental limitations). 

Under the Elder Abuse Act, the victim must have standing before proceeding with a lawsuit, meaning unless the victim dies due to elder abuse, they have the right to sue for damages. However, the Act leaves room for loved ones to pursue a lawsuit on behalf of the victim as, in most cases, the elderly or the dependent adult is either afraid to bring civil claims or does not have the physical or mental capacity to do so.

Elder abuse cases are fragile in nature, and it is crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced California elder abuse lawyer to learn more about the laws and your rights.

Who Can Sue for Elder Abuse in California

Under California law, not everyone has the right to pursue a lawsuit involving elder abuse. It is also important to note that a single suit may have multiple plaintiffs, as elder abuse can have a devastating impact throughout the family, affecting every individual independently.

California law allows the following individuals to sue for elder abuse.

The Elderly

In cases where the elderly can take action against the perpetrator, they may bring an elder abuse lawsuit against the negligent party to recover damages. 

However, in some situations, they may be unable to bring legal action due to their mental and physical state, which is why the law allows others to assist in filing an elder abuse suit.


Under California law, spouses can also pursue an elder abuse lawsuit against the negligent party. 

In cases where they don’t directly bring a civil action, they are still a key player in an elder abuse case as they may have witnessed the abuse perpetrated on their partner and provide a witness statement to strengthen the case.

Family Members

Surviving family members who have power of attorney or have directly witnessed the abuse perpetrated on their loved one can also sue. 

Family members are often the plaintiffs in elder abuse suits where the elderly cannot bring civil action themselves due to physical or mental limitations.


When an elder or dependent adult passes away due to abuse or neglect, the right to sue for elder abuse goes to the personal representative of the deceased elder. If there is no representative, the right to sue goes to the successor to the estate or the heirs.

Heirs can seek legal action against the negligent party where their abusive actions toward the elderly lead to the elderly’s death. Heirs often include children, but they can also include other individuals such as nephews, grandchildren, and nieces.

It can be challenging to pursue an elder abuse lawsuit, and the elder abuse laws are complex, which is why it is crucial to reach out to an experienced elder abuse attorney in California to discuss the case and learn more about your legal options.

Why Choose Ehline Law

Ehline Law is a superior personal injury law firm that has been operating in California since 2005. We recently expanded our reach to Texas to reach out to as many injured victims as possible, protect their rights and provide them with the best legal representation.

Our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience (over 15 years) and a superior track record (more than $150 million in verdicts/settlements). We have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to build a strong case, navigate complex laws, and hold the perpetrator accountable for the damages.

Ehline Law is also an award-winning personal injury law firm with many awards and achievements to our name. We have given interviews on the country’s largest media platforms on legislation such as cruise ship law and dog bite law and have helped draft consumer safety laws. When we take up a case, the other party knows we are a serious force to reckon with.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law

If you are a victim of elder abuse or know someone who is an abused or neglected elder, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation.

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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.