Nursing Home Negligence

Nursing Home Residents are at Greatest Risk From Coronavirus Exposure

Medical providers and caregivers in nursing homes keep a close eye on infectious diseases. These caregivers are responsible for the care and safety of some of the most vulnerable members of our society: elderly and infirmed persons. Caregivers in nursing homes take additional precautions in seasons in which the influenza virus is prevalent, when the common cold is rampant, or when other conditions that are dangerous to the health of nursing home residents can literally attack from the outside.

Nursing homes typically require their residents to be vaccinated against the most common forms of the influenza virus. They also may restrict access to facilities by visitors and take other precautions to limit exposure to infectious diseases at appropriate times.

The World Health Organization became aware of the highly infectious COVID-19 coronavirus on December 31, 2019. The virus quickly spread around the world in early 2020, and infected persons in every state in the United States. While the virus has features that make it similar to the common influenza virus and other coronaviruses like SARS and H1N1, COVID-19 has proven especially dangerous to vulnerable populations residing in nursing homes.

Duty of Nursing Homes to Protect Residents From Coronavirus Injuries

Residents of nursing homes who become infected with the coronavirus may face weeks or months of intensive medical treatment, including emergency medical treatment at a hospital, extended hospitalization, and the utilization of ventilators and other significant medical technologies. The infection, treatment, and recovery from the virus can result in permanent injury, extensive out-of-pocket medical costs, and extensive pain and physical and emotional suffering.

If a person has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus as a result of the negligence of a nursing home facility, the person 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.

Nursing Homes Must Take Reasonable Steps to Protect Residents From Coronavirus

Nursing home facilities must protect residents from the following sources of potential coronavirus exposure:

  • An infected resident can infect other residents in a facility;
  • An infected nurse or caregiver can infect one or more residents in a facility;
  • An infected visitor to the facility can infect a resident or employee of the facility;
  • An infected third-party vendor—a person delivering supplies, an outside caregiver, or a maintenance contractor—who enters the facility can expose facility employees or residents to the virus.

Nursing home facilities have a duty to protect residents from the transmission of serious and potentially deadly illnesses. If a facility breaches the duty to exercise reasonable care in protecting its residents, a resident injured as a result of the breach of this duty may recover damages from the facility.

Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyers Handle Coronavirus Negligence Claims

As the COVID-19 virus spread around the world in early 2020, it quickly became the leading topic in nearly every news source available, in every format. This means nursing home facilities were well-aware of the danger the virus posed to residents as early as January 2020. Reasonable steps that facilities could take to protect residents included:

  • Screening residents for symptoms of the illness and isolating those with symptoms;
  • Obtaining COVID-19 tests and testing symptomatic residents and employees;
  • Screening employees of facilities for symptoms of illness and inquiring into their travels, to identify any employees who may have traveled to virus hotspots;
  • Inquiring into contacts between employees and third parties who may have been at risk due to travels to hotspots or due to contacts with potentially infected third parties;
  • Requiring symptomatic employees to stay away from nursing home facilities;
  • Requiring all employees to wear protective clothing;
  • Enacting social distancing measures to lower the risk of transmission between persons in facilities;
  • Enacting disinfection measures to ensure that surfaces within facilities were virus free;
  • Limiting or prohibiting visits by guests of residents, or enacting measures to screen guests in facilities;
  • Screening third-party vendors entering facilities, and enacting measures to disinfect any outside materials brought into facilities that could potentially carry droplets containing the virus.

If a nursing home facility has failed to take reasonable steps to protect residents from exposure to the COVID-19 virus, a person injured by the nursing home’s negligence may be entitled to compensation. The professionals at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can assist persons injured by the COVID-19 virus in nursing homes.

Coronavirus Negligence Claims in Charlotte, North Carolina

If a nursing home resident has suffered injury resulting from exposure to the coronavirus in a nursing home facility, the resident may be entitled to reasonable compensation for the injury. The injured resident may bring a claim against the nursing home facility and, potentially, one or more of the caregivers in the nursing home who may have been responsible for the virus exposure event.

Most personal injury claims in North Carolina must be brought within three (3) years of the date of an injury. Most nursing home negligence cases involve significant litigation, as the cases are subject to North Carolina’s special pleading requirements for medical malpractice cases. Such cases require the opinions of experts regarding the applicable standard of care.

Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

The best thing a person injured in a nursing home facility by exposure to the coronavirus can do is contact an experienced, local personal injury attorney. The professionals at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can assist injured residents in identifying the exposure event and those responsible, and in preparing and filing claims against at-fault persons or facilities.

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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