Identifying and Reporting Elder Abuse in WV
When our elderly loved ones become unable to care for themselves, we often rely on caretakers, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes to help. We put our trust in people to provide care to our vulnerable family members. Unfortunately, elder abuse in WV often goes unreported because signs are missed or people are not sure whether something “counts” as abuse or neglect.
Understanding Elder Abuse in WV
Knowing how to identify elder abuse is the first step toward getting justice for your elderly loved one. While many people believe abuse is only physical, the law defines it more broadly and with more detail than that. In West Virginia, elder abuse includes physical abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
How can you tell if your loved one is in danger? Watch for these key signs:
Physical abuse: Evidence of physical injury, signs of punishment or restraint, or refusal to let your loved one see people alone;
Neglect: Poor hygiene, dehydration, malnutrition, being left alone, or unsanitary living conditions; and
Financial exploitation: Changes to a will, large withdrawals of money, or proof of forgery.
If you see any of these signs, report them immediately to adult protective services in WV.
What to Do When You Suspect Elder Abuse in WV
Adult protective services is available to handle reports of elder abuse in WV. Its role is to investigate claims and reports of abuse, both against individual caregivers and facilities that provide care to elderly residents.
To make a report, call Central Intake Abuse and Neglect at 1-800-352-6513 and provide the following information:
Basic demographics of your loved one, including age, sex, ethnicity, and location;
Your concerns and whether you feel your loved one is in immediate danger;
Whether the suspected abuser can access your loved one; and
Whether a first responder is in any danger and whether any threats have been made.
When you report elder abuse in WV, provide as much information as you can. If you’re unsure about anything, be honest, and simply tell what you know. Don’t let uncertainty stop you from making a report.
Are There Consequences to Reporting Elder Abuse in WV?
While the victim may not report abuse due to fear of retaliation or inability to do so, often a third party or family member doesn’t report abuse for fear of making a false claim. Fortunately, in West Virginia, any claim made in good faith is covered by W.Va Code §9-6-12, which prevents retaliation or legal action, even if no abuse is found.
It’s important to note that this law also covers people who are mandated reporters. These are people whose volunteer role or job brings them into contact with vulnerable populations; mandated reporters have a legal duty to report elder abuse in WV when it’s suspected or observed. These roles include the following:
Religious healers and Christian Science practitioners;
Police officers and social workers;
Medical professionals, including doctors and dentists; and
Employees of nursing care facilities.
Mandated reporters have 48 hours to report elder abuse in West Virginia.
Contact Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC for Help with Estate Planning
If you have evidence or suspect your loved one is a victim of elder abuse in WV, reach out to the authorities or West Virginia adult protective services immediately. They can begin an investigation on your loved one’s behalf. And when you’re ready to start estate planning, contact the caring attorneys at Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC at (304) 523-2100.