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Long-Term Care Residents Exposed to COVID-19 May Pursue Negligence Claims

As COVID-19 spread throughout the State of North Carolina, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities became the focal point of infections. On April 13, 2020, Charlotte’s WBTV reported that authorities confirmed that some 67 patients and staff members at a facility in Concord, North Carolina named Five Oaks Rehabilitation had been infected with COVID-19.

Local health officials expected the number of those infected to continue to rise, as persons with connections to the facility, including employees and residents, were tested.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, residents in long-term care facilities are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19, due to the existence of “underlying chronic medical conditions” and the “congregate nature” of facilities. Caregivers in nursing homes and other long-term care facility environments have long known of the risk that viruses and other respiratory pathogens pose, and have long known that infections are most often introduced “by staff, visitors or new or transferred residents, and… can have devastating consequences for individuals[.]”

Long-Term Care Facilities Have a Duty to Protect Residents From COVID-19 Injuries

Residents of long-term care facilities including nursing homes typically have “multiple co-morbidities [and] tend to have more severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19,” according to the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. The virus infection, the treatment for the virus, and a resident’s recovery from the virus can result in permanent injury, in extensive out-of-pocket medical costs, in significant pain, and in physical and emotional suffering.

Long-term care facilities became aware of the dangers COVID-19 posed as early as February 28, 2020, when the virus was identified in a resident at a care facility in King County, Washington. Testing ultimately showed that 81 residents, 34 staff members, and 14 visitors were infected with the virus. The outbreak resulted in 23 deaths linked to the facility.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that facilities needed to “take proactive steps to protect the health of residents and preserve the healthcare workforce by identifying and excluding potentially infected staff members and visitors, ensuring early recognition of potentially infected patients, and implementing appropriate infection control measures.”

If a resident of a long-term care facility has been exposed to COVID-19 as a result of the failure of a facility to take reasonable proactive steps to prevent the spread of the infection to residents, the infected resident may be entitled to damages for out-of-pocket medical costs, pain and suffering, and any permanent damage or loss of function caused by the infection.

CDC Made Recommendations on Reasonable Preventative Measures for Facilities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended, beginning in early 2020, that long-term care facilities take the following reasonable steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among facility residents:

  • Symptom screening and restriction policies for visitors and nonessential personnel;
  • Active screening of facility personnel;
  • Screening of residents for virus symptoms;
  • Social distancing measures among residents;
  • Training of personnel on infection control and use of protective equipment;
  • Strategic planning to respond to changing conditions, including potential shortages in equipment.
Personal Injury Attorneys in Charlotte Handle COVID-19 Negligence Claims

If a long-term care facility failed to take reasonable steps to protect residents from contracting COVID-19, a person injured by the facility’s negligence may be entitled to compensation. The professionals at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can assist persons injured by COVID-19 exposure in long-term care facility environments.

COVID-19 Negligence Claims in Charlotte, North Carolina

If a long-term care facility resident has suffered injury resulting from exposure to COVID-19, the sickened resident may be entitled to reasonable compensation for the injury. The sickened resident may bring a claim against the long-term care facility and any caregivers in the facility whose negligence may have caused the virus-exposure event.

Nearly all personal injury claims in North Carolina must be brought within three (3) years of the date of an injury. Injuries resulting in a person’s death must be brought within two (2) years of the person’s death. Cases against long-term care facilities may be subject to North Carolina’s special pleading requirements for “medical malpractice” cases. These cases require the opinions of experts regarding the applicable standard of care and can involve significant preparation and expense.

Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

The best thing a person can do who has been injured in a long-term care facility by exposure to COVID-19 is contact an experienced, local personal injury attorney. The professionals at Arnold & Smith, PLLC assist injured residents 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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