Fighting for People Abused at Adult Daycare Facilities
Adult daycares provide an important service, not only for their elderly clients, but also for family members who need to work. These businesses keep seniors and dependent adults active while also potentially providing medical care.
Sadly, not everyone who runs or works at adult daycare facilities in Texas is as caring or well-trained as they should be. If your loved one has suffered abuse at an adult daycare, call a Dallas nursing home abuse lawyer at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP at (214) 231-0555 to discuss your options for holding that facility financially accountable.
What Adult Daycares Do
While the term “adult daycare” might seem silly, these facilities provide important services. Elderly adults, even those who are generally healthy, can feel isolated, which can result in depression and health issues. These facilities give older people a chance to get out of the house, socialize with each other, and sometimes receive medical treatment.
For family members, adult daycare can make it easier to maintain a social and work schedule while still caring for an older loved one at home. It is important for caregivers to have breaks to care for themselves; this is true for both professional caregivers and family members. These facilities allow family members to have that time, which helps ensure a healthy relationship and better quality of life for everyone.
Forms of Adult Daycare Abuse
Unfortunately, not every adult daycare facility is as good as it should be. Whether the staff is poorly trained, the facility is understaffed, or there are staff members who act in an abusive manner, serious harm can come to people who visit such facilities. Some types of adult daycare abuse include:
- Deceptive promises of care
- Elder emotional abuse, such as threats and insults
- Financial theft
- Physical violence
- Sexual assault
Warning Signs of Abuse
Perpetrators of abuse often use intimidation to keep their actions from being reported. Other times the abused person might not fully understand what has happened, especially if they suffer from dementia or a similar impairment. There are warning signs to watch for, so keep these in mind if you suspect abuse:
- Changes in behavior. You might notice a loved one becoming depressed or isolated, despite the use of an adult daycare facility to increase socialization.
- Lost property. Be aware of any money, jewelry, or other property your loved one has when they go to and return from an adult daycare facility.
- Sudden weight loss. This can be a warning sign of emotional or physical abuse, as well as neglect, which can cause malnourishment.
- Bruises and other injuries. Watch out for unexplained bruises and ask about any injuries you notice – pay attention if your loved one refuses to talk about what happened.
- Fear regarding the facility. If your loved one seems frightened when talking about the adult daycare or on the way to it, this is a major red flag.
If you suspect abuse is occurring, immediately stop taking your loved one to that adult daycare facility. You should contact Texas Adult Protective Services immediately and report your suspicions – if you can, including documentation of bruises or other signs of potential abuse. It can also be worthwhile to involve Dallas police, depending on your suspicions and evidence you have.
What Is Needed to File a Civil Claim Against an Adult Daycare
To file a lawsuit for daycare abuse, you will need to be able to prove that the facility was negligent. Negligence requires proof of each of the required elements:
- A duty to do or not do something
- Breach of that duty
- An actual and proximate causal relationship between the breach of duty and the victim’s injury
- Actual damages sustained by the victim because of the breach
The facility may be legally responsible for its own wrongdoing, such as when the program’s policies or negligent hiring contributed to the abuse or if it failed to report suspected abuse. It may also be vicariously liable if an employee negligently or intentionally carried out abuse in the course and scope of duty.
Spotting and proving negligence can require a trained eye so it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer if you have concerns about a loved one.
Documenting Adult Daycare Abuse
The person bringing an abuse lawsuit has the burden of producing evidence that shows each of the elements of negligence. The type of evidence needed depends on the type of abuse involved, and it can include:
- Notes and journals that document observations like changes in behavior and timelines of events
- Medical records related to physical, sexual, or mental abuse
- Financial records where financial exploitation is involved
- Schedules and other facility-related records documenting when staff members had access to the victim
- Statements from witnesses
Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and programs that provide day activities and health services are all regulated by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. An HHS report is separate from a lawsuit, but it is still an important step because it will initiate an investigation into the facility and help to protect other potential victims. It can also provide documentation of your complaint that will support your lawsuit.
Duty to Report Suspected Elder Abuse
In Texas, any individual who suspects that a child, adult with disabilities, or elderly person is being abused has a legal obligation to report it. When done in good faith, the person making the report may remain confidential and is immune from civil or criminal liability. However, if someone is determined to have known about the abuse and failed to report it, they face criminal charges.
If your loved one is a participant in an adult day care program and you suspect they are the victim of physical abuse or neglect or elder financial abuse, you have a duty to report it; the law will protect you. This duty also applies to those who work for care facilities and adult daycare programs. If a day care program employee has reason to know about the abuse and failed to report it, they may be criminally liable, and the program may be subject to civil penalties.
Potential Compensation Available in an Elder Abuse Lawsuit
The litigation process aims to make victims whole, but nothing can truly undo the harm that elder abuse causes. The compensation awarded can help those harmed obtain the services that they need to recover as best they can.
Texas allows elder abuse and memory care facility abuse victims to recover compensation for monetary and non-monetary losses. An award may include:
- Reimbursement for past and future medical expenses, including treatment for emotional harm such as post-traumatic stress disorder
- Costs for in-home help necessitated by the injuries
- Property damage
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Physical impairment and loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
In addition, when the wrongdoing is especially egregious, the victim may even be entitled to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are awarded to punish a perpetrator rather than to compensate a victim. To be eligible to receive punitive damages, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the harm was caused by gross negligence, fraud, or malice.
An elder abuse attorney can help you determine what compensation may be justified in your case.
What to Do if You Suspect Adult Daycare Abuse
If you suspect that someone close to you is being abused – physically, emotionally, or financially – in an adult day care setting, it is important to talk to someone right away. To report abuse at adult daycare centers, contact the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or www.txabusehotline.com.
Watch your loved one closely for warning signs. Pay attention to the people they interact with. Gather whatever documentation is available. Depending on the type of abuse suspected, review their financial records or take them for a medical appointment to obtain a professional opinion.
Then, call the Dallas adult daycare abuse lawyers at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP at (214) 753-4592 to talk about additional steps you can take, including a civil lawsuit to hold the perpetrators liable for their actions. Your consultation is free.
- Adult Day Services Centers – CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/adsc.htm