Can Nursing Homes Be Sued for Residents’ Coronavirus Infections?
Can residents’ coronavirus (COVID-19) infections caused by nursing home negligence lead to lawsuits? As President Donald Trump declared a national emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak, citizens across the nation are worried about the spread of the deadly virus.
As of March 14, at least 50 people died from the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., while the worldwide death toll from COVID-19 soared to 5,500, according to USA Today.
Nursing home residents are at the highest risk of being infected with coronavirus because the virus hits mostly people over 50 years of age. Also, close living conditions in elder care facilities contribute to the spread.
A nursing facility in Washington has been hit the hardest. According to NPR, at least 25 people associated with Life Care Center of Kirkland died after being infected with the coronavirus. Other residents are monitored and treated in hospitals.
Nursing Home Residents Are at Greater Risk for Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions are at heightened risk of being infected with COVID-19 and dying from the virus, so elder care facilities must take extra precautions to prevent the spread of the deadly virus within nursing homes.
But what happens if a nursing home fails to take reasonable measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections within the facility? Can the facility be held liable for nursing home negligence?
Nursing Homes Must Follow CDC Guidelines to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus
Amid news that the U.S. government launched a task force to target nursing home abuse and neglect, elder care facilities face increased scrutiny due to the spread of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control prepared guidelines for preventing viral infections in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Like the flu, the coronavirus spreads through person-to-person contact and through tiny droplets produced when infected individuals sneeze or cough. The COVID-19 has the potential to quickly spread in a confined space such as a nursing home. It can be spread from infected residents to staff, and vice versa.
The CDC’s guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus in nursing home facilities include recommendations for healthcare workers to:
- Practice proper hand hygiene
- Wear personal protective equipment
- Restrict visits with infected patients
- Prevent infected or sick staff members from contacting residents
Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Negligence if Your Loved One Was Infected with Coronavirus?
If a nursing home fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it can be held legally responsible for the resulting infections and deaths. For example, if an infected nursing home worker exposed a resident to COVID-19, and the resident became infected, the worker or the facility may be liable.
You might have a valid nursing home neglect claim if your loved one was infected with coronavirus to recover damages caused by the resident’s illness. However, you are required to prove that negligence caused your loved one to contract the virus.
Elderly care workers may be considered negligent if they failed to take reasonable precautionary measures to prevent the spread, and that failure resulted in the resident’s illness. The same can be said about infections that occurred because a nursing home facility allowed a staff member to interact with residents when it knew or should have reasonably known that the worker is infected.
Speak with our Lakeland nursing home neglect attorney to determine whether you have a valid claim against the facility if your loved one contracted the coronavirus or another illness. Contact The Turnbull Firm for a case evaluation. Call at 407-612-6464 or 863-324-3500.