As we age, we often become more reliant on the assistance of others. This means we also grow more vulnerable to those who would prey on the elderly and infirm. Fortunately, Connecticut state law has legal protections in place to guard against elder abuse.
Let’s take a closer look at the basis of elder abuse, how state law protects older citizens and who is mandated to report any abuse they’ve witnessed.
Elder Abuse Defined
Under Connecticut law, elder abuse includes, but is not limited to, the following behaviors:
- Willful infliction of physical pain, injury or mental anguish
- Willful denial of services needed to maintain physical or mental health
- Neglect, abuse, abandonment or exploitation of the elderly (anyone older than 60).
When a scenario such as the above occurs, a report is typically filed with the state Commissioner of Social Services. This department then conducts an investigation into the condition of the person affected and the circumstances of the report. This investigation will culminate in a written evaluation with recommendations as to whether protective services should be notified.
This process, of course, begins with a concerned person making an initial report to Social Services. In some cases, this person may be mandated by Connecticut law to report elder abuse whenever it is witnessed. These people are referred to as “mandated reporters.” In addition to elder abuse, mandated reporters must also report instances of child abuse or abuse of people with disabilities.
Who Gets Designated as a Mandated Reporter?
Under Connecticut law, the following people are considered mandated reporters:
- Physicians, surgeons, residents and interns
- Licensed and registered nurses
- Police officers
- Social workers
- Medical examiners
- Nursing home workers and admins
- Physical therapists
Mandated reports are required by state law to report any abuse they believe is occurring within five days of learning of the abuse. This must be reported to the state Department of Social Services or Protective Service for the Elderly. Reports can be made in writing or orally and must contain the name and the address of the elderly victim, the nature of the issue and any other relevant information. Failure to make a timely report may result in a fine of up to $500.
Much as with child abuse cases, mandated reporters are granted civil and criminal immunity in any legal proceedings generated by the report, unless the reporter commits perjury or acts with malice.
The Vital Role Played by Mandated Reporters
Our most vulnerable citizens are owed an extra duty of care. When people violate this duty and abuse, neglect or otherwise harm vulnerable people, it’s often necessary for the state to intercede to protect its citizens.
Mandated reporters play a crucial role in stopping instances of elder abuse. They are the first line of defense, and can draw attention to and escalate abuse and neglect cases before they become even worse.
Once a mandated reporter has notified authorities, Social Services will make an initial determination and Protective Services may be called in. At this point, it’s possible that criminal or civil charges may follow in an effort to punish abuse or protect vulnerable citizens. Having an experienced elder care attorney can be a critical help when negotiating the processes associated with elder abuse cases.
Finding the Right Elder Abuse Attorney
At Brickley Law, we have the necessary compassion and legal experience to handle even the most complex elder abuse cases. If you believe someone is vulnerable, we urge you to contact us immediately for a consultation.