Are there civil or criminal penalties for elder abusers?
Elder abuse is a terrible crime that targets an extremely vulnerable population. Florida Statute 825.102 defines elder abuse as intentional abuse, neglect, exploitation, or aggravated abuse of an elderly adult above the age of 60.
Some instances of abuse are subtle. Elder abuse can take many different forms and, regardless of the type of abuse, it can leave severe emotional, mental, or physical damage to the victim.
Due to the extremely serious nature of this crime, the state of Florida provides various avenues of justice for victims of elder abuse. These include civil actions and criminal penalties for elder abuse perpetrators.
Criminal Penalties for Elder Abuse in Florida
Elder abuse is considered a felony in Florida and carries the following punishments defined in Florida Statute 825.103:
- First-degree felony: If the victim suffered serious bodily harm or permanent disfigurement, the perpetrator can be punished with up to thirty years in prison.
- Third-degree felony: If the victim did not suffer bodily harm or permanent disfigurement, the abuser can be punished with up to five years in prison.
- Aggravated neglect: Aggravated neglect is a second-degree felony punishable up to 15 years in prison.
- Financial abuse: Financial exploitation is another type of elder abuse that can be considered a first or second-degree felony depending on how much money was stolen.
Elder abuse is an unfortunate reality for many residents, especially in the state of Florida where nearly 20% of residents are senior citizens.
According to the Department of Justice, approximately 10% of seniors experience some sort of abuse in their lifetime and many will experience more than one type of abuse.
Elder abuse, which can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial, is taken extremely seriously by state authorities. If you suspect someone is committing elder abuse or that a loved one is in danger of elder abuse, report them by filing a report online or calling the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).
Civil Penalties for Elder Abuse in Florida
On top of criminal penalties for elder abuse, victims can bring a civil action against the abuser to recover damages resulting from the abuse or neglect they have suffered. It is possible to bring both criminal and civil actions against someone guilty of committing elder abuse.
According to Florida Statute 415.1111, the following people or organizations can bring a civil action against an abuser:
- The abused adult
- The adult’s guardian
- A person or organization acting on behalf of the abused adult (as long as there is consent from the adult or the adult’s guardian)
- A personal representative of the estate of a deceased victim
A successful elder abuse lawsuit plaintiff may recover attorney’s fees, costs of the action, and damages. Examples of damages in elder abuse cases include:
- General damages such as physical pain, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional suffering
- Hospital bills
- Past and future medical expenses
- Financial losses
Consulting an experienced Florida elder abuse lawyer is the best way to file a lawsuit and seek the damages needed to recover from the abuse. Elderly people often have trouble remembering the information needed to file a claim. This is where an elder abuse lawyer can step in and help build a solid case.
Should I hire an elder abuse attorney if I or a loved one have been the victim of abuse?
If a loved one has been the victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation at the hands of a caretaker, seek help immediately. After removing them from the situation, contact a skilled Florida elder abuse lawyer who can help you litigate your case.
At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, we believe in fighting for justice for vulnerable victims of elder abuse. Schedule a risk-free case evaluation by calling (561) 655-1990. We look forward to assisting you.