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Families Who Lost Loved Ones to COVID-19 in Long-Term Care to Pursue Claims

In early 2020, as COVID-19 spread throughout the State of North Carolina, some long-term care facilities enacted policies to prevent the spread of the virus into facilities. Some facilities were unable to prevent residents from becoming sickened, however, and a number of facilities have seen residents pass away as a result of the virus.

One facility in Orange County saw four residents die between April 2 and April 13, according the Raleigh News and Observer.

Local health officials reported outbreaks (defined as two or more positive virus test results arising out of a single facility) in as many as twenty (20) long-term care facilities throughout the state.

Residents of long-term care facilities are at the greatest risk from COVID-19. The likelihood of a long-term care facility resident dying of COVID-19 is ten (10) times greater than that of younger, healthy individuals.

Long-Term Care Facilities Were Aware of Dangers of Coronaviruses Like COVID-19

Various strains of the influenza virus kill tens of thousands of Americans every year, according to NBC News. Coronaviruses like the H1N1 virus, which killed as many as 18,000 Americans between 2009-2010, can overwhelm the immune systems of healthy people when the virus attacks in conjunction with another germ.

Death rates for H1N1 were the highest, however, among elderly Americans and, in particular, those who resided in long-term care facilities.

Long-term care facilities have known for decades that their residents are at the greatest risk when dangerous pathogens are on the march. Numerous studies, widely available for years, have outlined reasonable measures that long-term facilities can undertake to reduce the risks that dangerous infectious diseases pose to residents.

As COVID-19 spread throughout the United States in early 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraged facilities to take the following reasonable steps to attempt to stem the transmission of the disease among patients:

  • Identifying and excluding potentially infected staff members and visitors;
  • Ensuring early recognition of potentially infected residents; and
  • Implementing appropriate infection control measures.

If a resident in a long-term care facility has passed away after exposure to COVID-19 as a result of the failure of a facility to take reasonable steps to prevent the infection from spreading to residents, the family members of the deceased resident may be entitled to damages for the loss of their loved one.

At a Minimum, Facilities Should Have Followed CDC Guidance

Long-term care facilities house some of the most at-risk members of our society, who face serious illness and, potentially, death, after exposure to a dangerous infectious disease like COVID-19. For that reason, in early 2020, after the World Health Organization issued bulletins to governments around the world regarding the dangers of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that long-term care facilities in the United States enact the following protective measures:

  • Screening visitors and nonessential personnel for any virus symptoms;
  • Restricting access of visitors and nonessential personnel to facilities;
  • Testing or screening all personnel who came into contact with residents;
  • Screening all residents for virus symptoms;
  • Testing any residents who exhibited symptoms;
  • Enacting social distancing measures among residents and personnel;
  • Training personnel on infection control and the proper use of protective equipment;
  • Engaging in strategic planning to respond to changing conditions, including potential shortages in equipment, outbreaks among staff or residents, or deaths.
Personal Injury Attorneys in Charlotte Handle COVID-19 Wrongful Death Claims

If a long-term care facility failed to take reasonable steps to protect residents from contracting COVID-19, the families of residents who passed away as a result of a facility’s negligence may be entitled to compensation for the loss of a loved one. The professionals at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can assist families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 exposure in long-term care facility environments.

COVID-19 Wrongful Claims in Charlotte, North Carolina

If a long-term care facility resident passed away after exposure to COVID-19, the loved ones of the deceased resident may be entitled to reasonable compensation for their loss. Family members may bring a claim against the long-term care facility and any caregivers whose negligence may have caused the virus-exposure event that ultimately led to a resident’s death.

North Carolina’s wrongful death statute provides that aggrieved family members must bring a wrongful death claim within two (2) years of a loved one’s death. Because cases against facilities will likely be subject to North Carolina’s special litigation requirements for “medical malpractice” cases, any COVID-19 wrongful-death claims are likely to involve significant preparation and expense.

Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys Today To Schedule A Free Consultation

The best thing family members who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 at a long-term care facility can do is contact an experienced, local personal injury attorney. The professionals at Arnold & Smith, PLLC assist families in holding negligent persons and facilities responsible.

With offices in Charlotte, Monroe, and Mooresville, Arnold & Smith, PLLC handles personal injury cases across the entire State of North Carolina. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to set up a free initial consultation.

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