We don’t hear much case law or information on estate litigation involving elder law issues. However, this is a specific area where more case law and guidance from courts would benefit us in a tremendous way. If more cases end up going to trial and more decisions are rendered with respect to this important issue creating a body of law and precedents we can rely on, this would really help guide parties as well as help people get justice.
More guidance from courts would be especially beneficial in nursing home litigation, as there has not really been much out there and there is a kind of a general tendency to say that damages in these types of cases are not worth much. Indeed, there is a tendency to think that when an elderly person gets hurt, it is not justified to give a large reward of damages since we are dealing with someone in the latter years of their life and he or she may not have many years left. Ageism seems to be the contributing factor as to why damages are typically lower for the elderly individuals. This is very unfortunate, because any person’s life is worth the same no matter what age. Aging is a fact of life, and as people get older, they become vulnerable, which is why it is particularly important to treat elder law issue on par with the rest of cases in estate litigation when it comes to awarding damages. The “Golden Years Doctrine” was cited to argue for the better protection of elderly plaintiffs, grounded in the argument that the elderly suffer more and are more severely impacted from an injury than their younger counterparts.
In conclusion, there is limited case law in the elder law area. It seems that there are an insufficient number of claims being made, and an even fewer number that are pursued all the way to trial. Taking such cases to trial and increasing awareness is a way to create progress and transformation in this area of the law.