Did your loved one suffer financial abuse in a nursing home? If so, contact OnderLaw, LLC today for a free consultation to find out your legal options. Unfortunately, elderly residents are easy targets for fraud and theft. They often don’t have the physical or mental capacity to notice what’s happening or to stop it. Financial abuse often occurs in nursing homes because older adults are vulnerable and might not realize that someone is taking advantage of them.
Although financial abuse isn’t as common as other types of abuse, it can still occur and can create long-term financial problems for the victim. Your loved one and family shouldn’t suffer the consequences of someone else’s actions. They should receive justice for the harm they endured and get reimbursed for their losses.
At OnderLaw, LLC, our St. Louis nursing home abuse attorneys will work hard to protect your loved one from further exploitation and advocate for their rights. Call us today at (314) 963-9000 for more information.
What’s Considered Financial Abuse?
According to the Older Americans Act of 2006, elder financial abuse is the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, improper, or unauthorized act or process of a person that uses an older adult’s resources for personal or monetary profit, benefit, or gain and leads to depriving the elderly individual of their rightful use or access to belongings, benefits, resources, or assets.
The people most likely to commit acts of fraud or financial exploitation are those that nursing home patients trust. They include:
- Other patients
- Administrative staff
- Third-party employees and contractors
Examples of this type of behavior include:
- Stealing money or personal property
- Forging signatures on checks or legal documents
- Deception through telemarketing scams
- Instilling fear in the resident to get them to pay
- Using assets without the elderly adult’s permission
- Forcing signatures on a deed, will, or power of attorney
- Promising quality care in exchange for payment or property
- Using fraudulent or deceptive tactics to gain access to finances
- Charging items to a credit card without authorization
Nursing home patients become victims of financial abuse because they typically exhibit the following characteristics that make them the perfect target:
- Physical or mental disability preventing them from stopping the abuse or taking legal action
- Unfamiliar with the technology used to manage their finances
- Embarrassed or ashamed to report the incident
- Cognitive impairment, such as dementia, so they don’t remember what happened
- Isolated from family and friends
- Don’t understand how to deal with money, assets, and personal property
- Older age means they might not live long enough to recover compensation for their financial losses in an insurance claim or lawsuit
Common Warning Signs of Financial Abuse
Financial abuse is difficult to spot because it doesn’t cause physical injuries. As your loved one’s advocate, you need to look out for the warning signs and speak up if you believe someone in the nursing home is taking advantage of them. Common warning signs that might indicate financial abuse occurred include:
- Financial arrangements your loved one isn’t aware of
- Canceled checks or bank statements mailed to an unfamiliar address
- Unpaid bills or discontinued utilities
- Missing personal property, cash, and other belongings
- ATM withdrawals that your loved one couldn’t have made
- An employee showing unusual interest in your loved one’s finances
- Significant transfers or withdrawals that wasn’t approved
- Lack of adequate care even though they can afford nursing home expenses
- Financial arrangements that don’t have proper documentation
Since your loved one might not have the ability to report financial abuse incidents, it’s crucial that you pay attention to their financial standing. If you notice any unusual activity, report it immediately. OnderLaw, LLC can perform an investigation to determine if a nursing home employee is responsible for exploiting your loved one’s assets.
Risk Factors for Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes
There are groups of people more susceptible to financial abuse. Nursing home residents are most at risk because they’re older, have certain limitations, and don’t have family or friends around to protect them. The following elderly adults are most at risk of becoming victims of this type of abuse:
- Wealthy: If it’s common knowledge that someone has money, staff might steal valuable possession or access bank accounts, knowing there will be a huge payout.
- Mental illness: Residents with mental illness have a hard time speaking up for themselves or even noticing the signs of financial abuse. They might fear the offender and what would happen if they notify the nursing home of the incident.
- Cognitive impairment: Things like Alzheimer’s and dementia make it easy to take advantage of a nursing home patient’s finances. They likely won’t remember providing their ATM pin or signing over assets to their abuser.
- Physical disability: Individuals who require assistance getting up will have a hard time notifying someone of the financial abuse that occurred. The perpetrator could forcefully restrain and prevent them from leaving their room to talk to anyone.
- Lack of friends and family: Residents who don’t have family or friends to visit them don’t have anyone to confide in when an issue arises. With no one to advocate for them, they might feel helpless in holding the offender accountable.
- Unfamiliar with technology: If the patient doesn’t know how to do online banking, they might entrust it to someone that doesn’t have their best interests in mind. They won’t notice if money goes missing or their accounts are in someone else’s name.
How to Pursue Compensation in a Financial Abuse Case
If your loved one suffered financial abuse at the hands of someone in the nursing home, take legal action immediately. Speak to an experienced St. Louis nursing home financial abuse attorney from OnderLaw, LLC. We’ll help you gather evidence and build a strong case to prove liability. Seeking legal representation is one of the most important steps you can take. You’ll likely receive higher compensation than if you choose to handle the case alone.
The first thing you should do if you suspect financial abuse is to report the incident to the nursing home. Contact the owner or a member of management with details about the abuse. Include specific employee names, dates it occurred, and how much money they stole. Fill out an incident report, so there’s documentation to use as evidence. Some situations might require that law enforcement become involved. If you believe it’s necessary, call the police to file a police report.
It’s crucial that you remain calm throughout the entire situation. Don’t create a scene or point the finger at anyone without solid proof that financial abuse occurred. You could make matters worse for your loved one if the facility and its employees decide not to cooperate in the investigation. It might be best if you transfer your loved one out of the nursing home during this period, so they’re not subjected to additional exploitation or other types of abuse.
Create a list of all your loved one’s accounts, property, assets, and other finances. Print out bank statements, ATM receipts, and other documents that show the unusual activity. You should also deactivate or put a hold on all the accounts so the perpetrator can’t continue using them while we’re working on the case. You don’t want your loved one to experience additional financial strain while we’re working to compensate for their losses.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Afford a Lawyer?
We understand how difficult it is to discover your loved one is already struggling financially because someone took advantage of them. Legal costs might seem daunting, and you don’t know if you and your family can afford it. You might choose not to seek legal representation because you’re worried about the additional expenses you’ll have to pay. Unfortunately, clients that go unrepresented end up with smaller settlements in financial abuse cases.
OnderLaw, LLC knows the burden you’re facing. We want this process to be as stress-free as possible. That’s why we take all cases on a contingency-fee basis. That means there are no upfront fees or costs while we’re working on your insurance claim or lawsuit. We won’t collect our legal fees unless we win a monetary award from the at-fault party. If we lose the case, you won’t have to pay us.
We also offer a free initial consultation to all prospective clients. There’s no risk or obligation to meet with one of our St. Louis nursing home financial abuse attorneys and discuss the details of your case. We’ll be happy to review the incident and determine the available legal options.
Why Choose OnderLaw, LLC?
Our legal team has decades of experience handling financial abuse in nursing homes. We know how devastating this experience can be. You want your loved one to receive justice and get their money back so they can move forward with their life. We want that too. We’ll work to resolve the case efficiently and reach a favorable outcome.
We have an outstanding reputation in the St. Louis area and throughout Missouri. We hold an AV® Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, a legal organization that reviews law firms and provides ratings based on legal experience and case outcomes. We also received recognition from Super Lawyers, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers.
If your loved one was the victim of financial abuse and you need assistance with their case, call OnderLaw, LLC at (314) 963-9000 and ask to speak with a dedicated St. Louis nursing home financial abuse attorney.