COVID-19 Negligence Lawsuits Against Nursing Homes Can Proceed
A Mobile, Alabama nursing home neglect lawyer explains the recent court ruling
An appeals court recently ruled that several nursing home neglect and wrongful death lawsuits filed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic can continue to work their way through the state court system, according to a Reuters news article.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia recently upheld a lower court ruling and rejected claims by two nursing homes that such cases should be decided in federal court due to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act.
The PREP Act also contains provisions designed to protect companies from lawsuits related to the COVID-19 outbreak. By upholding a lower court ruling, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision clears the way for such lawsuits filed against nursing homes to proceed through the court system.
The recent appeals court decision involves wrongful death lawsuits filed by families in April 2020 against two nursing homes, where four residents died of COVID-19. The families allege that the nursing home facilities failed to take necessary preventative measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the nursing homes, Reuters reported.
How bad is the problem?
Nursing home residents and employees have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 31 percent of all COVID-19 deaths nationwide (more than 184,000 deaths) have occurred involving nursing home residents and employees, as of June 1st this year, according to The New York Times.
Since then, COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes have continued to be a significant problem nationwide. In July and August, nursing home fatalities due to COVID-19 increased “at a faster rate in nursing homes than among all others in the community” nationwide, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
And this past August, nursing homes nationwide reported more than 1,800 COVID-19 deaths involving employees and residents in a single month, the highest number of deaths since February 2021, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
What constitutes nursing home negligence?
Nursing homes have a responsibility to protect residents and staff members from being exposed to the coronavirus and other potentially deadly diseases. Failure to do so could be due to nursing home neglect. Examples include:
- Not vaccinating nursing home residents and employees.
- Not implementing mask mandates to prevent the spread of the disease.
- Not socially distancing in nursing home facilities.
- Not isolating people who have tested positive or who may have been exposed to the virus.
- Not notifying local, state and federal public health officials of a positive coronavirus test result.
- Not having the minimum number of staff members in a nursing home.
These are just some examples of possible nursing home neglect cases related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Other types of legal cases are possible. That’s why it’s important to contact a nursing home neglect lawyer as soon as possible to investigate your case.
How do I know if I have a legal case?
If you believe a family member became sick or died from COVID-19 due to mistakes made by the nursing home, it’s important to take certain steps right away to protect your family’s rights. These steps include:
- Ask the nursing home for copies of all documents related to your loved one’s illness or death. This may include:
1. Copies of COVID-19 vaccination records.
2. Copies of other medical records related to your loved one’s illness.
3. Your loved one’s death certificate if they died of COVID-19.
4. Copies of the nursing home’s COVID-19 policies and steps taken to prevent the spread of the disease.
5. Copies of any correspondences or letters from the nursing home sent to staff and residents about COVID-19 cases in the nursing home.
- File a complaint with the state agency that investigates nursing home neglect and abuse allegations. In Alabama, such investigations are conducted by Alabama’s Long-Term Care Ombudsmen.
- Contact a nursing home neglect lawyer in the state where your loved one became sick or died due to COVID-19.
The sooner you have an attorney investigating your case, the better.
Why should I hire a lawyer?
Many COVID-19 nursing home negligence cases can be very complicated. Often, nursing homes deny doing anything wrong. Instead, they often claim they did everything they could to protect residents and staff members. In addition, they often hire attorneys to justify their actions and deny your claim.
The experienced Alabama nursing home neglect attorneys at Braswell Murphy, LLC in Mobile know how to handle such complex legal cases. We know how to analyze medical records and find evidence in support of an injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit. We also know how to negotiate effectively with nursing homes, insurance companies, and their attorneys.