Who May Be Civilly Liable for Elder Abuse in New Mexico?

- Charles Ruhmann

The elderly population in the United States is steadily increasing – and is expected to reach at least 50 million elders in the year 2020.

Data from agencies of the Adult Protective Services in various states indicate a growing trend in reported cases of elder abuse. Despite increasing awareness of elder abuse, it is believed that many cases remain unreported, often exposing elders to severe and fatal injuries at the hands of people they trust, or who are entrusted with their care.

What Is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse refers to any harm inflicted on an elderly individual, which harm may be:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Psychological
  • Sexual, or
  • Financial

The abuse can also take the form of neglect or exploitation and can transpire at home, in a hospital, nursing home, or long-term care facility.

Signs of Elder Abuse

Certain types of abuse manifest in various ways. It’s important to report any suspected case of elder abuse when you notice any of such signs, which may include:

  • Bruises
  • Burns
  • Fractures
  • Abrasions
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Unauthorized withdrawal of the elder’s funds
  • Sudden changes in the elder’s will or financial documents
  • Bedsores
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Poor personal hygiene of the elder

New Mexico Duty to Report

Persons such as nurses, caregivers, and medical providers who inflict harm, neglect, or exploit elderly patients may be charged elder abuse. Other individuals who owe a duty to report cases of elder abuse may also be held civilly liable.

The Adult Protective Services Act, which is found in Section 27-7-30 of the New Mexico Statutes (NMSA) requires any person or financial institution to report cases of suspected elderly abuse, neglect, or exploitation to the Adult Protective Services Department. Failure to comply with this mandatory duty to report may be a basis for a tort action against the mandated reporters, even if these individuals did not inflict harm or abuse on the elderly victims.

If you suspect that a loved one is suffering abuse or neglect, or is being exploited by persons who are entrusted with their care, it’s important to report the abuse immediately and to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney about the situation. Your lawyer can analyze your loved one’s case and determine whether a potential claim for compensation exists.

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, the Ruhmann Law Firm has years of experience in elder abuse injury cases. Our team of dedicated attorneys work very hard to fight for the rights of our clients and to obtain compensation that they legally deserve.

We encourage you to call us at (915) 845-4529 for a free evaluation of your case.