Personal Injury Lawyer
Elder abuse takes many forms. In some cases, the elderly are physically or emotionally abused. In others, facilities that are charged with caring for the elderly neglect their needs. Seniors are also seen as easy targets for financial abuse.
Georgia law offers remedies to elderly victims of abuse. In many cases, victims can sue the abusers. However, lawsuits must be filed within the time period defined by Georgia law or the right to sue will be lost. Those time limits are established by statutes of limitations and are known as limitations periods.
The limitations period for an elder abuse lawsuit depends on the nature of the abuse. As soon as family members discover that abuse has occurred, it is wise to consult a Georgia elder abuse attorney to assure that legal proceedings begin before the limitations period ends.
Time for Filing a Physical Elder Abuse Case in Georgia
Physical abuse is sometimes inflicted by family members, but it can also be committed by caretakers. Nursing homes, eldercare facilities, and home health services are among the facilities that employ caretakers who, usually from a sense of frustration, physically abuse their elderly patients.
The limitations period for suing a business that permits its employees to inflict intentional physical abuse upon elderly patients is generally two years from the abusive act. In some cases, however, the limitations period might be extended.
When a patient is considered legally incompetent at the time the abuse occurs — for example, if a patient suffered from severe dementia or was sexually assaulted while in a coma — the limitations period does not begin until the patient regains competence.
In addition, if the lawsuit will be filed against an individual who committed a criminal act of abuse, the limitations period does not run during the time criminal charges are pending or while they could be filed. That pause, known as tolling, ends after six years or at the time the charges are filed and resolved, whichever is shorter.
Whether to sue individual employees, the institution, or both may depend on how the statute of limitations applies to the facts of the case. A Georgia elder abuse lawyer can advise families about their best options.
Time for Filing an Elder Abuse Case Based on Negligence in Georgia
Serious injuries are carelessly inflicted on elderly patients by facilities that are charged with their care. Patients fall when nursing aides fail to lift them properly while transferring them from a bed to a wheelchair. Failing to provide patients with adequate food and water can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. Bedridden patients develop painful bedsores that can lead to fatal infections when caretakers allow patients to remain in the same position for too long.
Lawsuits based on negligence must generally be filed within two years of the negligent act that caused an injury. As is true of intentional abuse, that time is extended if the patient is legally incompetent to sue when the abuse occurs.
Time for Filing a Case Based on Financial Abuse of Elders in Georgia
When financial abuse consists of the failure to honor a promise to repay a loan made by the elderly victim, the six-year limitations period for a breach of contract applies. When a guardian has stolen money from an elderly ward, the limitations period is generally ten years. The ten-year limitations period also applies to claims against an estate or its administrator.
Financial abuse claims are often based on fraud. Placing an unauthorized charge on a senior’s credit card is an example of fraud. Claims based on fraud must usually be filed within two years after the fraudulent act occurs.
Determining the correct legal theory for a lawsuit and the corresponding limitations period can be complicated. A nursing home lawyer is in the best position to advise elderly clients or concerned family members about their potential remedies for financial abuse.