How Much Proof is Needed to Win an Elder Abuse Claim in California?

How Much Proof is Needed to Win an Elder Abuse Claim in California?


Elder abuse is prevalent throughout the United States, and, here in California there has been a rise in the reports of elder abuse to state authorities with no signs of stopping as our elderly population skyrockets. California state authorities do have resources and personnel dedicated to combating elder abuse, but are limited in the time and attention they can give in investigating and prosecuting any individual case of elder abuse.

Thus, the family members of victims of elder abuse victims in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are often the ones who must stand up to abusers and their employers in pursuing justice through financial recovery for injuries and other legal measures to prevent additional seniors from enduring the same types of elder abuse horrors. A common and understandable concern among elder abuse victims is the level of proof that is needed to accomplish such victories on behalf of victims and others.

California’s Clear and Convincing Evidence Standard for Elder Abuse Cases

Before talking about the level of proof needed in winning an elder abuse claim, it makes sense to understand exactly what the substance of an elder abuse claim is. California law defines elder abuse as, “The negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.”

Elder abuse thus occurs where a person such as a nursing home or assisted living facility employee, administrator, or owner is negligent in taking care of an elderly person and the result is that the elderly person experiences physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, or elder neglect, which is the failure to receive needed care.

California applies a “clear and convincing evidence” standard to elder abuse claims. While this is a difficult concept to fully pinpoint, it is above the “preponderance of the evidence” standard applied to many civil claims (meaning more likely true than not) but is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard applied to criminal cases.

In essence, California courts have said that “clear and convincing evidence” means that a judge and/or jury needs evidence which indicates a high probability that the elder abuse occurred.

Building Clear and Convincing Evidence of Elder Abuse

When you first reach out to a California elder abuse attorney on behalf of an elder abuse victim, there is no expectation that you or the victim need have assembled enough evidence on your own to prove your claim. If you have noticed signs of elder abuse occurring to a family member, that is enough to precipitate contacting an attorney who can guide you from there in building a claim.

Specifically, an elder abuse attorney will take a number of steps to investigate and collect evidence of elder abuse, which can include:

  • Obtaining physical evidence from the victim
  • Interviewing the victim and others, including employees and fellow residents
  • Demanding documents and records from the defendants
  • Deposing administrators and employees
  • Obtaining public records and other documents related to potential evidence of abuse

Contact an elder abuse attorney today if you believe that elder abuse is occurring to you or a family member to get started in proving your elder abuse claim.

Contact the Southern California Elder Abuse Attorneys at Johnson Moore Today

At Johnson Moore, we know full well that elder abuse victims and their families often face stonewalling, denial, and even intimidation when they try to take action against elder abuse. Our attorneys are compassionate and determined defenders of the elderly, and we will take the time to fully understand your concerns and assess what steps we can take on your behalf. Even if you are unsure of whether you have a valid claim, we look forward to hearing from you to help you explore your options for obtaining the justice you deserve. Contact Johnson Moore today to schedule a free consultation.

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