Vulnerable Adult Claims in Arizona
Physical abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults in Arizona are as rampant as the financial exploitation of these often weak and defenseless members of society. Despite vulnerable adults’ need for care, compassion, and protection, caregivers, including family members and professionals such as nurses, sometimes physically abuse and neglect them.
Accordingly, Arizona seeks to protect the rights of vulnerable adults through the Arizona Adult Protective Services Act (APSA). Besides protecting their rights, the law allows vulnerable adults to seek compensation in vulnerable adult claims. The law mandates the Arizona Adult Protective Services (APS) to investigate reported cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly and other vulnerable adults.
Arizona Law on Vulnerable Adult Claims
In the unfortunate event of neglect or abuse of a vulnerable adult, Arizona law provides civil remedy under the Arizona Adult Protective Services Act. However, the law requires a plaintiff to establish four major elements in a vulnerable adult claim, including;
- the abused or neglected individual was a vulnerable adult, and
- the individual sustained an injury,
- as a result of abuse or neglect,
- perpetrated by a caregiver
Element 1: Vulnerable Adult
According to the APSA, a ‘vulnerable adult’ is any person eighteen years and above who cannot protect themselves from abuse, neglect, or exploitation due to a mental or physical impairment. APSA broadens the definition to include incapacitated adults, including those whose conditions result from chronic drug use.
Element 2: Injury
The law defines injury as any physical or mental harm sustained by a vulnerable individual, including death. For a successful claim, the harm or damage has to be intentional or due to negligence.
Element 3: Abuse or Neglect
According to Arizona law, abuse occurs when a caregiver inflicts physical harm on a vulnerable adult intentionally or through negligent acts or omissions. Abuse may also include sexual exploitation or the unreasonable confinement of the vulnerable adult.
Neglect occurs when a caregiver deprives a vulnerable adult of necessities and critical services, including food, water, shelter, or medication. It may also include the deprivation of medical services, supervision, and other services that a vulnerable adult may need to maintain minimum physical or mental health.
Element 4: Caregiver
The APSA defines a caregiver as ‘any person or enterprise hired to provide care and has assumed the legal duty to provide necessary care to the vulnerable adult.’ Paid caregivers include nurses, nurse-aids, and assistants. The law also allows unpaid caregivers, including family members, to be held accountable for any abuse or neglect they commit against vulnerable adults.
However, some actions by people who qualify as caregivers are not actionable under the law unless they meet specific requirements. Some of these actions include those that constitute medical malpractice, hence protecting licensed physicians, registered nurses, and physician assistants.
However, the protection extends to the professionals only when providing services within the scope of their license. Accordingly, physicians serving as medical directors of a care facility are not immune from liability in case of abuse or neglect.
Contact an Arizona Vulnerable Adult Claims Lawyer
Besides the requirement to establish the four elements for an actionable vulnerable adult claim, there are other considerations, including a two-year statute of limitation. Typically, pursuing a vulnerable adult claim in Arizona is not straightforward, especially without the necessary legal knowledge and experience. However, if you or a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect as a vulnerable adult in Arizona, don’t worry. Mr. Barry Bellovin of The Bellovin Law Firm is a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer committed to helping you get fair compensation in a vulnerable adult claim. Contact him to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about his services.