Rep. Bennett Advances Crucial Protections for Seniors and the Disabled

Illinois seniors and the disabled would be better protected from both physical and financial abuse under legislation guided through the Illinois House Friday by State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City). The Illinois House unanimously passed Bennett’s House Bill 1588 that allows victims and their families or guardians to promptly proceed in court with a civil case, and increases the damage awards they may recover.

“It’s reprehensible that the most vulnerable in our community are often targeted for abuse and fraud, To add insult to injury,  the high burden of proof in criminal cases often discourages prosecution, and leaves victims and their loved ones without a good way to seek justice and to recover financially,” Representative Bennett said. “The legislation we advanced today allows senior or disabled victims of physical or financial abuse to take their case directly to civil court.”

House Bill 1588 allows a civil claims case to be brought by an elderly or disabled victim, or their families or guardians, when they have suffered injury, damage or death because of physical or financial abuse. The legislation also sets financial damages they may be awarded at three times the actual economic damages resulting from the abuse.

“Most importantly, this legislation will help those victimized get the justice they deserve, and their finances restored. By making those responsible liable for three times the actual damages they cause, it also sends a strong message to those who would target the most vulnerable members of our community,” Representative Bennett said.

Having passed the House on unanimous vote, House bill 1588 now advances to the Senate for further consideration. It is supported by AARP and the Illinois Elder Financial Justice Clinic.