Nursing Home Wrongful Death
As the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus has spread around the world, it has, sadly, attacked some of the most vulnerable members of our society: our aged, our sick, and our disabled. While medical scientists are still learning about the virus, COVID-19 bears some hallmarks of other easily transmitted viruses such as influenza, SARS, and the H1N1 virus.
Nursing home facilities provide housing and day-to-day care to the elderly, the sick, and to disabled persons who cannot care for themselves. These facilities know, from the annual spread of influenza, H1N1, the common cold, and other illnesses, that certain precautions must be taken to protect persons in their facilities from exposure to dangerous illnesses.Nursing Homes Must Protect Patients From Coronavirus
Residents at nursing home facilities can be exposed to viruses and other illnesses in the following ways:
- A care provider employed at the facility becomes ill, but goes to work anyway and infects one or more residents;
- A resident who has been infected interacts with other residents, and infects those residents;
- A guest who visits a facility is ill, and passes the illness to the resident he or she is visiting;
- A third-party vendor—a person delivering supplies, an outside caregiver, or a maintenance contractor—is ill, and enters the facility, exposing workers and residents to illness.
Nursing home facilities must take reasonable steps to protect residents from the transmission of serious and potentially deadly illnesses. As an incident at a nursing home facility in Seattle, Washington in February and March of 2020 illustrated, the failure to take reasonable steps to protect nursing home residents from exposure to dangerous illnesses can result in dozens of deaths. The consequences can be wide-reaching, as one of North Carolina’s first known cases of COVID-19 was found in a visitor who returned to the Raleigh area after visiting a loved one at the same Seattle nursing home facility.Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyers Handle Coronavirus Wrongful Death Claims
When a person or facility fails to exercise reasonable care to protect patients, and a patient falls ill and dies as a result of the failure, the patient or patient’s family members may pursue a claim for damages against the person or facility. The coronavirus that spread throughout the United States in early 2020 was well-publicized even before local, state, and federal governments began issuing lockdown orders, and nursing home facilities were well-aware of the dangers an easily transmissible virus posed to residents.
Nursing home facilities have a duty to protect their residents from dangerous viruses. Reasonable steps that facilities can take to protect residents include:
- Screening employees for symptoms of illness;
- Inquiring into the travels of employees, including to known virus hotspots;
- Inquiring into the contacts between employees and third parties who may have been at risk due to the travels or contacts of third parties;
- Requiring symptomatic employees to stay away from the nursing facility;
- Requiring asymptomatic employees to wear protective clothing;
- Enacting social distancing measures to lower the risk of transmission between persons;
- Enacting disinfection measures to ensure that surfaces within a facility remain virus free.
If a nursing home resident has died as the result of exposure to the coronavirus in a nursing home facility that failed to take reasonable steps to protect residents in a timely manner, the family members of the deceased resident may bring a claim against the nursing home and, potentially, one or more of the caregivers in the nursing home who may have been responsible for the virus exposure event.
While most personal injury claims in North Carolina must be brought within three (3) years of the date of an injury, wrongful death claims must be brought within two (2) years of a person’s death. In addition, most cases involving the care rendered to a person in a nursing home facility fall under the ambit of North Carolina’s special pleading rules for medical malpractice cases. These cases require the opinions of experts regarding the applicable standard of care, and the cases can be quite complex.Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
The best thing you can do if you have lost a loved one in a nursing home facility as a result of exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus is contact an experienced, local personal injury attorney. The professionals at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are ready to assist families with investigating, 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.