What to do if you suspect your elderly loved one is being neglected, abused

November 3, 2014 | 9:35 am


Too often, our oldest, frailest and most vulnerable citizens fall victim to abuse, neglect and are exploited. These victims often cannot help themselves and depend on others to meet their most basic needs.

In fact, each year thousands of elderly people succumb to abuse and neglect, and many times the abusers are family members, friends or trusted others.

In general, elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living. Laws have been passed in all 50 states, including California, of course, to help prevent elder abuse.

Recently, Bakersfield elder abuse and elder neglect attorney David Stiles visited Buckley Radio station’s The Groove 99.3 to discuss elder abuse and neglect, give advice on what to do if you suspect your elderly loved one is being neglected, and answer questions from listeners.

Stiles answered a question from a listener who was concerned a family member was mismanaging funds from an elderly loved one.

To listen to the segment on KKBB, click here.

Stiles also discussed the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Care and Protection Act, or EADACPA. This law was passed in 1981 to protect elder, over the age of 65, and dependent adults from abuse and exploitation.

“We can do a lot now to recover damages for families who have experienced tragedy with a loved one in nursing care or assisted living,” Stiles told listeners as he discussed the topic with DJ Sheri Ortiz.

Laws and definitions of elder abuse and neglect vary from state to state, but broadly defined, abuse may be:

  • Physical abuse: Inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior (slapping, bruising or restraining by physical or chemical means).
  • Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Neglect: The failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.
  • Exploitation: The illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
  • Emotional Abuse: Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts (humiliating, intimidating, or threatening).
  • Abandonment: Desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
  • Self-neglect: Characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health or safety.

Stiles is a senior partner at the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles. The law firm also provided some tips and advice related to elder abuse and neglect.

What are the warning signs of elder abuse?

  • Bruises, broken bones, abrasions and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene and unusual weight loss.
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person.
  • If you notice changes in a senior’s personality or behavior, you should start to question what is going on.

It’s important to alert others if you have suspicions, and to retain an attorney.

The Bakersfield elder abuse lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have the knowledge and expertise to handle elder abuse cases. In fact, senior partner David Stiles has been a panelist and legal service provider for the California Association of Nursing Home Reform. And he has also obtained several six-figure results on behalf of his clients who were victims of elder abuse.

If you believe that you are the victim of elder abuse, contact Chain | Cohn | Stiles immediately at 661-323-4000, or visit the website Chainlaw.com.

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To listen to more radio show appearances by Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys, go here:

Chain | Cohn | Stiles on The Groove: How to know if you have a case against your employer

October 2, 2014 | 4:00 am


* Update: Chain | Cohn | Stiles is no longer accepting wrongful termination and sexual harassment cases *

Losing a job when you didn’t deserve to lose it, or dealing with a hostile work environment can be traumatic. Unfortunately, these situations happen all too often.

The reality is that employment law tends to be very favorable for employers, making it that much more important to contact an attorney who handles employment law cases right away, if you think you’ve been wrongfully terminated, sexually harassed in the workplace, or are dealing with an employment-related injury. Having an attorney will keep you from making mistakes, or agreeing to things that may negatively impact your ability to pursue a case. Secondly, an attorney will be able to inform you of the necessary steps you must take before taking any action against your employer.

These are just some of the tips provided by the Bakersfield wrongful termination and employment law attorney Neil Gehlawat of Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently while on the air with Sheri Ortiz on The Groove 99.3.

He also discussed how to know if you have a case, the necessary steps to take if you think you have a case, and other tips for employment cases.

You can listen to the two short segments here:

Employment law cases are essentially divided into two types, shared Gehlawat:

  • Wrongful termination
  • Hostile work environment/sexual harassment

The agency in California that oversees employment-related matters is the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The law in California requires employees to “exhaust their administrative remedies” before pursuing legal action against their employer. That means that employees in most cases need to obtain a “Right to Sue” letter from department before they can sue their employer in court. Directions for doing this can be found on the department website (www.dfeh.ca.gov), but it is highly recommended that you contact an attorney before filling out any forms with department.

Provided that you are an at-will employee, in California, the law permits employers to hire and fire employees at will, provided that the hiring or firing decisions are not discriminatory in nature, or do not violate public policy.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees, or subjecting them to a hostile work environment, because they are members of a protected class.  “Protected class” means (and is not limited to) age, religion, national origin, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and others. In other words, an employer cannot fire you because you are African American, or because you are a senior citizen and replace you with someone much younger, or because you are Jewish, for example. If you believe that being part of a protected class is the reason for retaliatory action taken against you, you should consider speaking with an attorney.

There are some other instances where you may have a case, but those instances are limited. For example, if you are a whistle blower, meaning you report the wrongful or illegal activity of your employer to a higher-up and you are then fired or disciplined for it, you may have a case. Or if you’re injured on the job, and file a workers’ compensation* claim, your employer cannot fire you. In the last case, they must also make an effort to engage in a good faith interactive process to see if they can reasonably accommodate you, even with injuries you have sustained on the job.

Finally, Gehlawat shared some tips.

It is important for employees to always put things in writing. Employment cases always turn into “he-said, she-said” cases, and putting things on writing can go a long way to help your case. If you’re having an issue at work, send an email or write a letter, and notify your supervisor or human resources representative. Keep records of everything you put in writing so that it is documented and it does not get lost. Second, if you’re being harassed or subjected to a hostile work environment, you need to report it in writing. You need to give your employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the problem, and if you do not, it may negatively affect your case.

Gehlawat said if you take just two things away from this blog post and the radio spot, it’s this:

  • Talk to an attorney early.
  • Document everything in writing.

* Editor’s Note: Neil Gehlawat is no longer an attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles *

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

CCS on The Groove: The importance of having uninsured motorist coverage

September 29, 2014 | 11:23 am


What should you do when you’re in a car accident, the other driver is at fault, and he or she has little or no auto insurance?

Knowing what to do when you are in a auto accident can be difficult, especially with complex insurance policies involved. If the driver at fault does not have insurance, or very little, you may have a difficult time obtaining compensation for damages suffered in the accident.

That’s why it’s important for you to purchase an insurance policy that includes coverage for “uninsured motorists” and “under-insured motorists.”

Bakersfield car accident attorney Matt Clark recently appeared on The Groove 99.3 (KKBB) with Sheri Ortiz to discuss the issue, and give advice to listeners on insurance policies.

You can listen to the two segments here:

As personal injury lawyer at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Clark represents a lot of people who are involved in auto accidents. Many times, he receives calls from people who have been injured by someone to didn’t have any insurance at the time of the accident.

Due to the accident, the injured client has had to miss work and has medical bills to pay, for example.

“What do you do to protect yourself?” Clark asked listeners on The Groove. “When you buy insurance, one of the cheapest things you can buy is uninsured motorist coverage. You want to have limits that can cover you in case someone hits you.”

Clark recommends motorist purchase a $100,000 over $300,000 auto insurance policy at a minimum to protect yourself. The policy allows you to collect from your insurance company to recoup your damages that exceed the responsible party’s limits.

“It’s not expensive to get that coverage and it protects you,” Clark said.

The uninsured and under-insured policies also cover you and your family in the case of an accident while walking, running, or riding a bike — you don’t have to be behind the wheel to take advantage of the policies, Clark said.

It’s important to note, Clark said, that many times, drivers have to specifically ask their insurance policy companies that uninsured and under-insured be added to policies.

While on the air, Clark and Ortiz received a call from a woman who was involved and injured in an auto accident, after the other driver ran a red light, she said. She took advantage of her uninsured motorist policy, which helped her out tremendously, she said.

“It’s definitely important,” Amanda said on the show. “I had uninsured motorist, and I will never get insurance without uninsured motorist ever again. Without having uninsured motorist, you’re going to be stuck.”

Added Clark: “It’s my job as a lawyer to make sure that my clients are fairly compensated, not only for the injuries they have right now, but for the injuries they may have in the future.”

Filing an uninsured motorist claim can often include complex legal issues that require the assistance of a lawyer experienced in dealing with insurance companies. The lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles can help. Call for a free consultation at 661-323-4000, or visit the personal injury and workers compensation* website Chainlaw.com.

To learn more about uninsured motorist policies and their importance, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on chainlaw.com.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Groove 99.3

August 22, 2014 | 9:23 am


The Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to announce its partnership with The New Groove 99.3, “Bakersfield’s Old School” station.

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UPDATE: To hear audio clips of Chain | Cohn | Stiles on The Groove, go below and click on the links. 

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The Buckley Radio Group station — which is family owned and operated — is now airing various CCS commercials throughout the day (to listen to these, click the links below under “Radio Commercials”). Twice a month also you will find our attorneys chatting live in air with Groove DJ Sheri Ortiz about various personal injury and workers compensation* cases handled by the law firm, discussing Kern County injury cases getting attention in the media, and answering questions from listeners. You can also find our logo and link on the Groove’s website.

Catch us this month with Sheri Ortiz on Thursday, Aug. 28, and on Friday, Aug. 29. Check back to this post for a schedule of future radio appearances.

Additionally, the partnership between Chain | Cohn | Stiles and The Groove includes participation in three nonprofit events.

  • October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We’ll be reminding women and men on air to see a doctor for a mammogram on each Buckley station, which includes KLLY, KKBB and KNZR.
  • In November and December, we’ll also be involved with Bakersfield Toys for Tots Toy Drive, which raises funds to provide toys to supplement the collections of local coordinators and defray the costs of conducting annual Toys for Tots campaigns.
  • We’ll also be a part of the “Don’t Drink and Drive Campaign” from Dec. 24 to 31. This falls in line with Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ commitment to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. This year, the law firm is helping organize and host Bakersfield’s first-ever “Walk/Run Like MADD” with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. Learn more about the Sept. 20 event HERE.

Here are the radio commercials you can find airing now on Groove 99.3. To listen to some of our other radio commercials, which will air during each Bakersfield College Renegades football game, go HERE.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Radio show: CCS managing partner speaks on Silva wrongful death case

June 23, 2014 | 9:21 am


Discover Politics Progressive Internet Radio with AndreaMiller0 on BlogTalkRadio

CCS Managing Partner David Cohn on Saturday was a special guest on a national radio show to discuss the ongoing wrongful death case involving David Silva.

To listen to the hour-long interview, which also features the brother of David Silva — Chris Silva — press play on the player above, or CLICK HERE.

The two were the guests of Jacque DelRio, who hosts the radio show, Chicano Chronicles. The program is featured by the Progressive Democrats of America, a political organization that works inside the Democratic Party and outside in movements for peace and justice.

The focus of Saturday’s program was an ongoing wrongful death case involving David Silva, brought by Bakersfield personal injury law firm. Here’s a synopsis on that case:

On the night of May 7, 2013, David S. Silva was asleep in front of a home in east Bakersfield, across from Kern Medical Center. Several law enforcement officers arrived on scene and proceeded to use unreasonable and excessive force in striking Silva with batons several times all over his body, while he screamed for his life and repeatedly begged the officers to stop. After being repeatedly beaten, bitten and hog-tied, Silva stopped breathing.

Shortly after midnight, Silva was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

On the one-year anniversary of the event, veteran personal injury attorney David Cohn — who is representing the family of David Silva — released the following statement:

“Today marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic and unfortunate death of David Silva at the hands of local law enforcement from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol. Although disappointed, we were not surprised by District Attorney Lisa Green’s decision several weeks ago to not pursue criminal charges against these officers. That being said, we remain committed to obtaining justice on behalf of David and his entire family, especially his four children, who will be without a father for the rest of their lives. The road to obtaining justice will be a difficult one; however, we are confident that in the end, the truth will prevail and justice will be done. This case is certainly about David Silva and about what happened to him, but it is also about much more than that. It is about changing the culture of local law enforcement in this community, and holding law enforcement officers who use unreasonable and excessive force accountable for their actions.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a civil rights lawsuit in connection with the wrongful death of David Silva. The lawsuit arises out of an incident at the intersection of Flower Street and Palm Street in Bakersfield, when David Silva died as a result of unreasonable and excessive force used by six Sheriff’s deputies, a sergeant, and two California Highway Patrol officers. The complaint seeks damages on behalf of David’s four young children, his significant other, his parents and his brother, for the loss of love, affection, society, service, comfort, support, right of support, expectations of future support and counseling, companionship, solace and mental support, as well as other benefits and assistance of Silva.

Since Silva’s death, family members and other supporters have been rallying for justice. Among the most outspoken is David Silva’s brother, Chris, who was also a guest on the radio show.

Progressive Democrats of America was founded in 2004 “to transform the Democratic Party and our country.” The group seeks to build a party and a government controlled by citizens, not corporate elites, with policies that serve the broad public interest, not just private interests.