Can a family sue a nursing home after resident’s COVID-19 death?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2022 | elder law

Nursing homes may be legally responsible for the deaths and illnesses of some of its residents if negligence plays a factor. Among the more typical cases involving negligence include failing to treat illnesses such as bedsores and infections, failing to provide food and water, leaving residents in isolation and not providing prompt medical attention.

Such neglect by staff and management may lead to a lawsuit against the nursing home. This also may apply to nursing home residents who contract the COVID-19 virus and become ill or succumb to the disease. All it takes is a single person infected with the virus to spread it among residents.

Facilities claim immunity

That single source may be a nursing home staff member who has declined to get vaccinated, a prospective resident who visits the facility with his or her family or even the barbers, instructors and entertainers who make regular visits to provide services.

Granted, this is a murky legal territory with the COVID-19 crisis. Some nursing home companies and facilities claim they are immune to lawsuits thanks to a federal law implemented during the pandemic. Known as the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, this law provides protection against legal claims tied to countermeasures in a public health care emergency.

In the COVID-19 situation, countermeasures may include drugs and products used to treat, prevent and diagnose the virus and transmission of the virus.

Neglecting to test visitors

Regardless, nursing home residents must have a safe place to live. Here are some of the potential deadly failures that may lead to a COVID-19 death at such facilities:

  • Not testing visitors, prospective residents.
  • Failing to quarantine residents who have the virus.
  • Failing to check the temperatures of residents.
  • Staff members failing to take preventative measures such as wearing masks or shields.
  • Stricken staff members who fail to self-isolate and come to work anyway.

Such negligence will play factors. Nursing homes must do their best to implement measures that keep residents safe.

Pursuing a challenging lawsuit

It is possible to pursue a lawsuit against a nursing home in the event of the death of a loved one who contracted the COVID-19 virus. However, expect some serious challenges along the way.