San Diego Elder Abuse Lawyer

Elder abuse is a growing concern today.  Elder abuse encompasses physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse, neglect, and abandonment of seniors.  The effects of elder abuse can be devastating, with victims experiencing long-term physical and emotional problems, financial loss, and even premature death.  Williams Iagmin, LLP has a proven track record of success in elder abuse cases.  We have the experience and skill to get victims and their families the justice they deserve.

What to Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse

Call 911.  If someone is in immediate danger or has a medical emergency, call 911. 

Report to the Authorities.  Report the abuse to Adult Protective Services right away.  Certain mandated reporters are required by law to report elder abuse.  Mandated reporters include healthcare workers, law enforcement, emergency responders, employees of financial institutions, clergy, social workers, elder care custodians, and anyone who has assumed responsibility for the needs of an elderly adult.

Talk to the victim privately.  Even if the victim denies the abuse, report it if you suspect it is happening.  Victims may deny blatant abuse for many reasons, such as if the abuser is a family member. The impulse to protect a close family member is understandable, but not if it leads to dangerous consequences. 

Talk to the victim’s support system.  Sometimes, the victim’s family can quickly intervene.  For example, suppose the abuser is a hired caregiver.  In that case, the victim’s family can fire the caregiver and prevent harmful incidents from happening again.

Contact an experienced elder abuse lawyer.  An elder abuse lawyer can take legal steps to prevent further abuse and protect the rights of the victim and their family.  A good lawyer will handle the legal aspects of the case so the victim and their family can focus on their recovery.

What Is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse can take many forms.

Physical abuse is using force to cause harm or injury, such as hitting, pushing, and slapping.  Physical abuse includes inappropriate use of drugs, restraints, or confinement (such as locking someone in a room or tying them down).

Emotional / Psychological Abuse is harmful language or behavior that causes the victim distress, fear, or anxiety.  Types of emotional and psychological abuse include intimidation, humiliation, ridicule, blaming, scapegoating, yelling, threatening, ignoring, gaslighting, preventing the victim from seeing their friends and family and preventing them from doing activities they enjoy.

Financial abuse is exploiting the victim’s financial resources.  Financial abuse is not limited to stealing money and belongings.  It may also involve:

  • Stealing retirement or Social Security benefits
  • Forging checks
  • Using credit cards or bank accounts without permission
  • Changing names on a will, bank account, life insurance policy, title to a house, or other asset
  • Fraud (including over the phone, internet, or email)
  • Forcing the victim to give ‘’gifts’’ against their will or without their knowledge

Sexual Abuse forces someone to watch or participate in sexual acts against their will.  Sexual abuse includes non-consensual touching, rape, forcing someone to watch sex or pornography, and forcing someone to undress.  Older adults who appear frail, and older adults with disabilities, are particularly vulnerable to such attacks because they are less able to defend themselves.

Neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to provide necessary care, such as food, bathing, clothing, medications, and access to healthcare.  Neglect includes failure to clean dirty living areas and leaving someone alone for an extended time. 

Abandonment is leaving a dependent adult alone without planning for their care.  Caregivers must respond to their patient’s physical, emotional, and social needs.  Leaving someone alone, who cannot care for themselves, is a form of abuse.

What Are the Signs of Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse can be challenging to detect for several reasons.  The victim may hide the abuse out of shame or fear of retaliation.  The victim may be unable to communicate what happened due to disability, dementia, or memory issues.  In financial abuse or voyeurism cases, the victim may not be aware of the abuse when it happens. However, there are telltale warning signs of elder abuse:

Physical AbusePhysical abuse may cause unexplained bruises, burns, cuts, broken bones, scars, or other injuries.  Victims may have broken glasses/frames or show signs of being restrained (such as marks on wrists).  However, physical abuse does not always leave visible damage.  As such, it is essential to watch for other signs of abuse.
Victims may have sudden behavior changes, such as becoming withdrawn, agitated, or violent.  They may display signs of trauma, like rocking back and forth.  Victims may have trouble sleeping, lose weight, and stop participating in activities they enjoy.
Beware of caregivers who show anger, indifference, or aggressive behavior toward patients.  Beware of caregivers with a history of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior, or family violence.
Emotional and Psychological AbuseVictims may suffer excessive fear, withdrawal from friends or activities, loss of appetite, change in mood, anger, agitation, unexplained bouts of crying, and confusion.  Victims may rock back and forth and mumble.
Beware of threatening, belittling, or controlling behavior by a caregiver.  Beware if the senior seems timid or scared around a caregiver.  Also, beware if a caregiver refuses to let people see an elderly adult alone.
Financial AbuseSigns of financial abuse include changes in banking routines, third-party involvement in financial transactions, large or frequent withdrawals, numerous checks made to cash, use of new ATMs, new names on accounts, sudden transfers of assets, transactions that can’t be explained or understood, changes in credit card activity, failure to make payments, and missing personal belongings (like wallets, checkbooks, or credit cards).
Victims of financial abuse may suffer fear and anxiety, worry about theft of assets, and decline in appearance or hygiene.
Sexual AbuseVictims of sexual abuse may suffer unexplained venereal diseases or infections, bruising or bleeding in the genital area, pain or itching in the genitals, and torn or stained clothing and underwear.
Women are much more likely to be victims of elder sexual abuse than men.  Victims may have sudden changes in behavior, panic attacks, signs of post-traumatic stress, agitation, withdrawal, and other personality changes.
NeglectSigns of neglect include inadequate clothing, poor hygiene, unkempt appearance, missed medical appointments, malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, dirty living space, the smell of urine or feces, utilities turned off, no food in the home, lack of necessary medications, and missing glasses or hearing aids.
AbandonmentVictims of abandonment may be unable to perform necessities like eating, paying bills, bathing themselves, putting on clothes, and taking medications.  They may have dirty clothes and living areas, lose weight, display poor hygiene, have unkempt hair or appearance, suffer from malnutrition and dehydration, and develop sores and rashes on their skin.

Who Is at Risk of Elder Abuse?

There are several risk factors in elder abuse cases.

Often victims are women, but some are men.  The most vulnerable people are those with disabilities, who are isolated, have no friends or family nearby, have memory problems or dementia, and people who depend on others to complete basic activities (eating, bathing, dressing, and taking medications).  People who appear frail may appear to be easy victims. 

Elder abuse can happen in many places, including an older person’s home, family members’ houses, assisted living facilities, or a nursing home.  Perpetrators of elder abuse may include family members, strangers, healthcare providers, caregivers, or friends.  Seniors should beware of unscrupulous contractors, predatory lenders, telemarketers, and identity thieves who target older adults.

Beware of caregivers who suffer from high stress, mental illness, exposure to abuse as a child, past traumatic experiences, addiction to alcohol or drugs, or inadequate training for caregiving.  These factors may lead a caregiver to become abusive.  High levels of conflict between a senior and a caregiver can also lead to mistreatment and abuse.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse can cause early death, physical injuries, psychological harm, financial disaster, and more.  Victims of elder abuse may develop permanent physical disabilities and mental health problems.  Elder abuse can devastate victims and their families emotionally and financially. 

Elder abuse victims may suffer anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.  Even isolated instances of elder abuse can cause serious health problems.  Survivors of elder abuse have higher rates of hospitalization and institutionalization and are three times more likely to die prematurely.

Adult Protective Services can recommend support groups and counseling to help elder abuse victims recover.

Who Is Liable for Elder Abuse?

Liability for elder abuse depends on where it occurred and who did it.  The perpetrators of elder abuse are always liable for the harm they cause.  However, the abuser’s employer might also be responsible if the abuse happened at their business or within the scope of their employment.  For example, if an employee at a nursing home abuses a senior, both the employee and the nursing home are responsible for the harm.

All senior care facilities must keep their occupants safe.  These facilities may be liable when their employees abuse or neglect patients.  These facilities are also responsible if a third-party contractor, such as a security or maintenance crew, abuses one of their patients. 

Senior care facilities — nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, state institutions, and daycare centers for adults — may be liable for failing to conduct background checks, train employees, provide sufficient security, maintain sanitary living conditions, and provide necessary medical care.    

Depending on the circumstances of the case, an insurance company may be involved.  Do not expect the insurance to take pity on the victim or their family.  Insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to minimize payments to victims regardless of their suffering.  The insurance company aims to settle the case quickly for as little money as possible. Insurance companies pay more to the clients of lawyers who have a proven track record of winning personal injury trials.  From our experience, victims and their families will need a proven elder abuse lawyer to receive anything close to the total value of their claim.


A gentleman was defrauded out of the full value of his property by his real estate agent, who also represented the buyer.

What Compensation Is There for Victims?

Victims of elder abuse are entitled to recover for physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment, emotional distress, property damage, lost assets, past and future medical expenses, and other damages.

If someone has died due to elder abuse, the victim’s family may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.  The victim’s family may be entitled to recover for medical expenses, funeral expenses, emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, mental anguish, and other damages.

Do not wait to contact an attorney if you or someone you love has suffered from elder abuse.  Elder abuse cases are subject to various deadlines and statutes of limitations that may cause the victim to forfeit their legal rights if they delay. 

How to Prevent Elder Abuse

There are several steps you can take to prevent elder abuse.  Check in with seniors regularly and offer support and assistance.  Encourage social engagement to reduce isolation.  Isolation is a major risk factor for elder abuse.  Stay in contact with older adults and ensure they receive proper treatment for any health problems.

Education and training about the signs and symptoms of elder abuse can help stop it before it occurs.  Learn about the legal and financial steps you can take to prevent the financial abuse of seniors. 

How We Can Help

At Williams Iagmin, LLP, we have a proven track record of success in elder abuse cases.  Our attorneys will manage the legal aspects of your case so you can focus on your recovery.  We have the experience and skill necessary to achieve the best possible result in your case.  Contact us today for a free consultation with one of the top personal injury lawyers in San Diego.  You will receive a well-written summary of the facts of your case for free.

We are a small law firm.  Larger firms farm their work out to less experienced lawyers.  Hire us, and your case will be handled directly by one of the best personal injury lawyers in San Diego.


U.S. Department of Justice – Elder Abuse Statistics

San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency – Adult Protective Services

San Diego County – Welfare and Institutions Code § 15630-15632

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department – Elder Abuse

The City of San Diego – Elder & Dependent Abuse

U.S. Administration for Community Living – Elder Abuse: A Public Health Issue that Affects All of Us

California Department of Social Services – Adult Protective Services (APS)

California Department of Justice – A Guide to Preventing and Reporting Abuse and Neglect of Elders and Dependent Adults

U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Preventing Elder Financial Exploitation

California Courts – Statute of Limitations