Seniors and at-risk adults have long been exploited and targeted. The victims are usually physically and/or mentally vulnerable while having desirable assets (cash, homes, investments, etc.). These dreadful situations of abuse are widespread and a growing problem.
Neglect and Physical Abuse
Abuse of at-risk adults includes acts (or failures to act) that threaten the health, safety, or welfare of an at-risk adult. This includes acts (or failures to act) that expose the at-risk adult to a situation that poses an imminent risk of injury or death.
In terms of caretakers, neglect occurs when the caretaker fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, psychological care, physical care, medical care, or supervision.
Colorado has named specific crimes that are committed against at-risk adults and increases the seriousness of a criminal charge if the victim is an at-risk adult. The punishment becomes heftier if the crime was committed by a person who is in a position of trust.
Financial Exploitation/Misuse of Assets
Financial exploitation means the improper use of an at-risk adult’s financial resources for another person’s advantage. Misuse of assets typically occurs when someone unlawfully spends the at-risk adult’s money (or uses assets) without permission and/or not for the benefit of the at-risk adult. Another form of misuse of assets is when the abuser unlawfully coerces the at-risk adult to execute a deed, title, or transfer ownership of an asset.
One of the difficulties in elder abuse situations is separating simple acts of friendship and kindness from undue influence. On the other hand, when an at-risk adult is dependent upon another for support, friendship, or other assistance, the at-risk adult may feel they have no choice but to concede to the requests of their caretaker.
An experienced attorney can assist in gathering and evaluating the evidence to make this difficult distinction. The attorneys at Burnham Law are experienced trial lawyers and have employed experts and investigators to build the evidence needed to prove or disprove exploitation.
Civil Remedies – Protection Orders
Colorado law allows for special civil protection orders to assist in the protection of at-risk adults. For example, Colorado law allows for orders that prohibit threats of inappropriate use of medications, inappropriate use of physical/chemical restraints, or the misuse of fiduciary powers, such as guardianship or conservatorship.
Our attorneys at Burnham Law have experience filing and defending civil protection orders.
Civil Remedies – Fiduciary
Colorado has specified laws that provide protection to at-risk adults from abuse by their fiduciaries (guardians, conservators, personal representatives, trustees).
Civil Remedies – Lawsuits
Under Colorado law, there are many claims to resolve at-risk abuse including undue influence, duress, fraud, replevin, recission of contract, and conversion. Due to the large number of available claims and the complexities of a civil lawsuit, an experienced attorney can be essential. These lawsuits are special in that they typically deal with the elderly or a party with physical/mental limitations. Not all lawyers are experienced in the rules and strategies of working with such parties.
Colorado Department of Human Services
The Colorado Department of Human Services (“DHS”) is a government agency that is responsible for providing protective services to at-risk adults. Upon receiving a report of abuse (or self-neglect), DHS is required to investigate in a timely manner. If DHS finds that an at-risk adult is being mistreated or experiencing self-neglect (or is at risk for mistreatment or self-neglect), they offer protective services. The at-risk adult can accept or decline the protective services, but in the case of denial, DHS can file with the courts to impose the services.
At Burnham Law, we work closely with DHS. Burnham Law will assure that DHS has all the evidence to make important decisions such as opening a protective case or what services to offer. Additionally, Burnham Law will assure that DHS is offering all applicable services in their arsenal.
The abuse of elders and at-risk adults is a growing problem. Burnham Law is doing its part to curb these terrible situations. The attorneys at Burnham Law want to protect you and your loved ones. Burnham Law will use every method of protection allowed by law to assure you and your loved ones avoid abuse.
On the other hand, sometimes, what appears to be abuse is completely legal. When working with elder abuse claims, things may not be as they appear. Being alleged to have committed elder abuse can be devastating. Burnham Law has the experience to protect you against elder abuse claims, whether they be through DHS, law enforcement, or civil court.