By Steven G. Mehta

Two bills have recently been introduced in California that could sharply affect issues relating to elder abuse and the litigation of those claims.  According to a news report from the website California Watch, California lawmakers have introduced two bills affecting issues relating to elder abuse:  one to change the reporting requirements of mandated reporters and the other to change the burden of proof in elder abuse cases.

Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, recently introduced AB 40, which would require mandated reporters to inform both an ombudsman and local law enforcement when they suspect abuse. Currently, mandated reporters – which include employees at nursing homes and social, health, and law enforcement workers – are only required to report cases to one of the two agencies.

Another bill, SB 558, introduced in February by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, would change the burden of proof in elder abuse cases, which are often prosecuted as civil cases, not criminal ones. The bill lowers the burden of proof from “clear and convincing evidence” to a “preponderance of evidence.”

Both the state and federal legislature have recently had hearings on the topic of elder abuse.  Most recently, actor Mickey Rooney, testified in Congress of how he was a victim of financial abuse.  These bills and the hearings certainly reflect a growing concern regarding these issues.  To read more about the bills and their proponents, click here