Was your loved one the victim of financial abuse at a nursing home? If so, contact a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney right away to put an end to this mistreatment immediately.
Financial abuse is also known as material exploitation or financial exploitation. It occurs when someone illegally or improperly uses another person’s funds, property, or assets. In nursing facilities, residents are vulnerable to this form of abuse. They don’t have the physical or mental ability to stop it. Those with cognitive illnesses aren’t even aware that it’s happening.
Unfortunately, the nurses and other staff members that you thought you could trust are the ones most likely to commit financial abuse against your loved one. At Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, we understand how infuriating this situation can be and how much you want justice. You hate to see your loved one suffer and want to ensure those responsible for harming them are held accountable for their actions.
Since 1970, our Chicago nursing home financial abuse attorneys have helped nursing home financial abuse victims recover the compensation they deserve. Call us at 312-346-8620 to find out more about our legal services or schedule a consultation.
Financial Abuse at Chicago Nursing Homes
According to Illinois statute § 720 5/17-56, financial exploitation of someone with a disability or of an elderly person occurs when someone in a position of confidence or trust knowingly:
- Obtains control over the disabled or elderly person’s property by intimidation or deception; or
- Uses the disabled or elderly person’s resources or assets illegally.
These individuals may commit financial abuse in nursing homes:
- Administrative staff
- Nurses’ assistants
- Other residents
Types of financial abuse that occur include:
- Using assets without permission
- Stealing personal property or money
- Using deceptive or fraudulent tactics to access finances
- Forging signatures on checks or legal documents
- Promising quality medical care or additional services in exchange for money or property
- Forging a signature on a power of attorney, deed, or will
- Charging items to a credit card without authorization
- Using fear or threats to take money
Unfortunately, older adults in assisted living facilities and nursing homes are perfect targets. The people caring for them or interacting with them regularly get to know personal details about their lives, including their financial standing. Patients with the following characteristics often become victims of financial abuse:
- Cognitive illness, such as dementia
- Lack of understanding about handling assets, money, and personal property
- Shame or embarrassment about reporting what happened to anyone
- Physical or mental disability prevents them from stopping the abuse
- Older age or fatal disease is likely to end their life before they can recover financial compensation from a legal case
- Isolation from family and friends
- Lack of knowledge about technology, such as online services, used to manage their checking account, assets, and other finances
Warning Signs Associated with Financial Abuse of Nursing Home Residents
Unlike physical abuse, financial abuse doesn’t cause any visible injuries or trauma. It doesn’t even lead to emotional pain most of the time because the elderly victim doesn’t have the mental competency to understand what someone did to them.
If you believe your loved one is the victim of financial abuse, it will be up to you to speak up and be their advocate. Be aware of these common indicators:
- ATM withdrawals your loved one could not have possibly made
- Bank statements, canceled checks, or other documents mailed to an unknown address
- Cash, personal property, and other belongings that have gone missing
- Lack of proper care from staff despite paying all necessary nursing home expenses
- Staff or others talking about recent financial arrangements your loved one does not know about
- Withdrawals or transfers that were not approved
- Discontinued utilities or unpaid bills
- Financial decisions that lack the appropriate documentation
- Employees who show an unusual interest in your loved one’s financial standing
At Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, our Chicago nursing home financial abuse attorneys know the complexities of this type of case. Patients usually cannot speak for themselves, so they need their family members to do it for them. However, it might be challenging to obtain sufficient evidence proving who the offender is. When you notice anything unusual about your loved one’s finances, seek legal representation and investigate immediately.
Pursuing Compensation from the At-fault Party
Multiple parties could be liable in a financial abuse case. Even if an individual employee committed the act, the nursing home could be partially to blame for failing to perform a background check and hiring someone with a criminal record or history of financial abuse. It’s crucial that you determine all the parties at fault so that you can recover the maximum compensation available.
You should take steps to protect your loved one’s rights and ensure you can pursue the financial award they need to cover all of their losses. It’s critical that you stay calm throughout the process. Don’t make a scene at the facility or do anything to worsen the situation for your loved one.
Step 1: Report the incident to the nursing home. Complete an incident report and ask for a copy of it. If absolutely necessary, call the police to file a police report.
Step 2: Remove your loved one from the facility. Transfer them to another nursing home or set them up in your home so the perpetrator isn’t around them anymore.
Step 3: Notify the bank of the unusual activity. It might be best to freeze all their accounts until the investigation ends.
Step 3: Speak to anyone who may have witnessed what happened. Other patients might have similar financial abuse experiences by the same employee, or someone might have noticed unusual interactions between your loved one and a staff member.
Step 4: Make a detailed list of your loved one’s finances. You should also print bank statements, credit card statements, ATM withdrawals, and other documents showing activity that seems suspicious.
Step 5: Hire a Chicago nursing home financial abuse attorney to assist you with your case.
Risk Factors Associated with Financial Abuse
Some people are at higher risk of financial abuse than others, and those who live in a nursing home are especially vulnerable. When someone has an illness, doesn’t see their family that often, and can’t care for themselves, it’s a challenge to protect against the wrongdoing of others. Some patients don’t have the mental ability to realize when another person is taking advantage of them. Others might fear retaliation or that no one will believe their accusations, so they stay quiet.
Older adults most at risk of becoming a victim of financial abuse share these traits:
Mental illness – Patients with a mental illness might have a hard time defending themselves against an abuser. They might be less likely to speak up about what happened if they feel ashamed. Patients with severe mental illness might think it’s pointless saying anything because no one would believe them over the employee.
Known wealth – It might be common knowledge that a resident has a lot of money. When their family moves them into the facility, they could have expensive jewelry, designer clothing, and other valuable possessions. They become a target quickly when staff members see these trappings of wealth because they know there will be a huge payout if they gain access to their accounts.
Physical disability – Anyone who requires assistance getting dressed, walking, and performing various daily tasks likely can’t notify management of financial abuse. Their abuser could deny them access to other areas of the property and forcefully keep them in their room.
Cognitive impairment – Impairments, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, cause problems with memory. Anyone who wants to drain their patient’s bank account or make large ATM withdrawals will have an easier time getting away with it because their patient likely won’t remember.
Unfamiliar with technology – Nursing home residents could entrust their accounts to an employee they believe has their best interests in mind. If they don’t know how to do online banking, the perpetrator could easily control the resident’s finances by setting up online accounts and only allowing no one but themselves access.
Isolation – People who never have visitors at facility don’t have anyone in their corner to advocate for them. If they become the victim of financial abuse, there’s no one for them to turn to for help with a legal action.
Nursing Home Financial Abuse Frequently Asked Questions
Nursing home residents are often vulnerable to financial abuse because they either don’t have a family to manage their money and assets or lack the mental ability to realize what’s happening to them. It’s devastating to discover your loved one has become the victim of financial abuse. You might not know the steps you should take to protect them or how to prove someone has taken advantage of them. You will likely encounter obstacles while seeking justice and pursuing compensation. It can be a confusing and overwhelming time for you and your family.
At Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, we want your path to justice to be as easy as possible. Below are some questions you might have about immediate action you should take and how to prevent this from happening again in the future.
What should I do if I suspect financial abuse?
There might be warning signs, but financial abuse can be difficult to notice. If you have suspicions, you should immediately ensure they don’t continue and remove your loved one from the dangerous situation.
- Discuss what’s been happening with your family members. Ask them specific questions about their finances, including unusual activity with their bank accounts or credit cards.
- Transfer them to another facility or your home where their abuser can no longer get to them.
- Temporarily lock all accounts so they’re not vulnerable to additional financial abuse.
- Hire an experienced attorney to investigate the matter and gather substantial evidence proving financial abuse occurred.
- Print out bank statements, credit card statements, and other documentation.
- Consider signing a power of attorney giving you or someone in your family that you trust control of their finances.
How can I prevent financial abuse from happening again?
There are some preventative measures you could take to mitigate the risk of your loved one becoming the victim of financial abuse by another staff member or at another nursing home. They include:
- Change the passwords to all online banking accounts regularly.
- Monitor financial activity daily to look for any suspicious withdrawals or money transfers.
- Set up an alert to your phone whenever there are unusual transactions.
- Visit your loved one often to observe how the staff behaves around them.
- Discuss their finances with them regularly so you know what they’re spending their money on.
Should I report financial abuse to the police?
You might feel it’s necessary to involve law enforcement in this matter. There are various agencies you can call to report instances of financial abuse or exploitation.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program – Ombudsmen advocate for nursing home residents and have experience resolving abuse complaints. To find a program where you live, visit https://theconsumervoice.org/get_help.
State Licensing and Certification Agency – Every state has an agency that certifies, licenses and regulates long-term care facilities and nursing homes. They’re also responsible for investigating allegations of abuse. Go to this website to find your state’s licensing and certification agency.
Adult Protective Services – APS investigates neglect, abuse, and exploitation of older adults. Find your local Adult Protective Services by visiting https://www.napsa-now.org/help-in-your-area.
Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC Will Help You in Your Fight for Justice
Our Chicago nursing home financial abuse attorneys are ready to fight for your loved one’s rights. We know the burden you’re feeling handling a legal case. It can be overwhelming and stressful. You can depend on our legal team to handle every step so you can focus on caring for your family member.
Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC has over 50 years of experience holding people accountable for the suffering they have caused. Your loved one has gone through a devastating ordeal. You can depend on us to work diligently to reach all their legal goals and ensure the outcome of their case is favorable.