The abuse (sexual or physical or mental) or exploitation of a disabled adult in Tennessee can give rise to a right of the disabled person to seek damages.
Under Tennessee law, a disabled adult is one who meets one of the following criteria:
(A) Has some impairment of body or mind that makes the person unfit to work at any substantially remunerative employment;
(B) Lacks the capacity to consent;
(C) Has been certified as permanently and totally disabled by an agency of this state or the United States that has the function of so classifying persons; or
(D) Has been found to be incompetent by a court of proper jurisdiction.
The law provides for certain types of damages in the event that a person is found to have abused or exploited a disabled person. Damages shall include damages for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement and medical bills, as well as court costs. If money or other property is taken the wrongdoer can be ordered to repay or return it. In addition, if it is proven upon clear and convincing evidence that abuse or neglect, sexual abuse or exploitation or theft resulted from intentional, fraudulent or malicious conduct by the wrongdoert, the disabled person can recover reasonable attorneys’ fees.
It is simply shocking to all of us that someone would take advantage of a disabled person, physically, sexually or financially. Fortunately, the law has special protections in place to give victims of such acts a way to receive financial recourse.