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Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse and Neglect Attorney

Law Firm focused on representing elders

Elder neglect and abuse is a growing problem in the U.S. Elder abuse and neglect attorneys represent seniors who have been subject to abuse or neglect in an institutional setting, typically a nursing home or assisted living facility. As an elder abuse attorney handling these claims, Mr. Downey is adept at investigating and prosecuting these cases as he has obtained the experience and knowledge necessary to protect this vulnerable segment of the population. He has written extensively on this topic over his 30 years as a trial attorney and is recognized by his peer and educates other attorneys on how to best pursue elder neglect and abuse cases. In September 2021 he will be speaking at the Virginia Trial Lawyer’s association on assisted living abuse and neglect.

What is abuse under Virginia Law

In Virginia, abuse or neglect of an incapacitated adult is a crime under Va. Code 18.2-369 (link _

Under this code provision, abuse means (i) knowing and willful conduct that causes physical injury or pain or (ii) knowing and willful use of physical restraint, including confinement, as punishment, for convenience or as a substitute for treatment, except where such conduct or physical restraint, including confinement, is a part of care or treatment and is in furtherance of the health and safety of the incapacitated person.

What is Abuse Under Maryland Law

In Maryland, abuse is defined by Section 14-101 of the Family Law article, Annotated Code of Maryland, which defines abuse as “sustaining of any physical injury by a vulnerable adult as a result of cruel or inhumane treatment or as a result of malicious act by any person. “

Warning Signs of Elder Abuse or Nursing Home Neglect

  • Unexplained injuries including bruises, fractures or skin punctures
  • Failing to properly assess a patient’s care needs and put in place a proper plan of care
  • Bedsores, pressure wounds or decubitus ulcers.  Such injuries result when a patient’s bony prominence is exposed to prolonged pressure.  In many cases the development of such injuries is a sign of neglect, but not always.
  • Poor hygiene or soiled clothes or sheets, uncombed or matter hair
  • Frequent smell of urine or other foul smells associated with lack of proper cleaning.
  • Failing to respond to significant changes in a resident’s medical condition, like failing to send a patient to the hospital after he suffers a mental status change or serious injury
  • Leaving an incapacitated adult in a dangerous situation, like on the toilet or in the shower, where the resident relies upon staff assistance
  • Improper restraints resulting in injuries like contractures or bruising
  • Financial fraud or exploitation, especially where the resident is demented
  • Poor staffing or lack of ability to monitor and prevent patients from falls or other preventable injuries or adverse outcomes
  • Extended periods of time where patient does not void feces, indicating impaction or constipation.
  • Uncontrolled fluctuations in blood sugar levels for patients with diabetes
  • Excessive use of medications to restrain or calm patients.  Improper use of psychotropic medications can be a type of restraint that can have a harmful effect on patients when used for extended periods of time.
  • Failure to timely respond to call bells or request for nursing assistance
  • Caregivers yelling or making rude or disparaging statements to patients
  • Rough handling by caregivers or improper transfers causing injury
  • Caregivers violating rights of residents or retaliating against patients who exercise their right to complain about neglect or abuse
  • Caregivers falsely documenting information in the record or failing to report suspected abuse or neglect to the family or proper licensing authorities

What should I do if I suspect elder abuse or neglect

  1. If the patient is in immediate jeopardy, call 911, adult protective services or demand that the patient be taken to the hospital
  2. Take photos or preserve evidence of the neglect.  That might also involve politely pressing caregivers or management for an explanation of what happened. Save any emails or communications with the facility including phone messages.
  3. Contact an elder neglect and abuse lawyer for immediate advice.  You should consider contacting an elder neglect lawyer before reporting the abuse or neglect to any licensing authority, as counsel can help frame your complaint in a manner that assures a proper investigation.  The Law Office of Jeffrey Downey will advise you on this issue as part of their initial, free consultation.  Call 703-564-7357.
  4. Consider reporting the neglect to the appropriate licensing agency.  That can differ from state to state.  A guide for reporting abuse in Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland can be found here. Link (Reporting Abuse, Neglect & Fraud Against Healthcare Providers (

Contact our elder abuse attorney at 703-564-7318 to schedule an initial free consultation. We have a convenient office locations in Tysons Corner, Virginia, off the Metro.  We also handle cases in Washington DC and Maryland.  If you cannot come to us, our elder abuse attorney can come to you.



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