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Could Nursing Homes Face Wrongful Death Claims Due to COVID-19 Deaths?

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on May 07, 2021 in Nursing Home Abuse

resident looking out windowAs of April 4, 2021, 131,584 residents of long-term care facilities had died from COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which regulates long-term care facilities.

While it may have been impossible to prevent some of these deaths, as the elderly are particularly susceptible to severe consequences from a COVID-19 infection, nursing homes did not always take the proper precautions.

Systemic problems that have plagued nursing homes for years may have put long-term care residents at high risk for contracting the virus and ultimately dying from it.

If an infection was caused by understaffing, failure to isolate other infected residents, employing staff members who had been around other infected people, or another form of negligence, there may be grounds for a wrongful death claim.

The Phoenix wrongful death lawyers at Phillips Law Group are here to review your situation in a free legal consultation. If we validate your claim, we are prepared to pursue maximum compensation for the damages caused by your loved one’s death.

There are no upfront fees for our services, which means there is no risk in calling to discuss your situation. Our firm has helped many families secure compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one, including recoveries of $4.5 million, $4 million and $3.1 million.

Phillips Law Group is here to help. Call 1-800-706-3000.

Were Nursing Homes Negligent in Fighting COVID-19?

This would be one of the central questions in a wrongful death claim filed on behalf of a nursing home resident who died from COVID-19.

There are many factors your attorney may review to assess whether a nursing home or its staff members may have been negligent.

Did Nursing Homes Know How to Slow the Spread of the Virus?

Even though we have learned so much about the virus since the early days of the pandemic, CMS issued guidance on infection control at long-term care facilities in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. This guidance was based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that were quite clear about slowing the spread of the virus.

On March 13, 2020, CMS issued a memorandum with “aggressive and decisive” recommendations, including:

  • Actively screen residents and health care personnel for fever or respiratory symptoms
  • Restrict visitors immediately, except for compassionate care
  • Restrict volunteers and nonessential health care personnel

CMS continued to provide updated guidance throughout the pandemic. For example, updated guidance was issued on April 2, 2020. Long-term care facilities were advised to screen anyone entering a facility, including:

  • Residents
  • Staff
  • Health care workers
  • Vendors

Facilities were advised to ask about COVID-19 symptoms and do temperature checks. Residents who were already in the facility needed to have their temperatures checked every day and be assessed for symptoms.

If the state where a facility was located issued a state of emergency, all personnel in the facility were advised to wear a face mask at all times. It was also advised to wear full personal protective equipment (PPE) when providing care for any resident who had a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Did Nursing Homes Follow Infection Control Guidelines?

Unfortunately, many nursing homes may not have implemented CMS and CDC guidance on protecting residents from COVID-19. The Department of Health and Human Services has been inundated with complaints about how nursing homes may have failed to protect residents.

Nursing homes/nursing home staff members have been accused of:

  • Failing to use PPE that was readily available
  • Failing to tell residents and/or their families of positive COVID-19 tests within the facility
  • Failing to follow social distancing guidelines
  • Failing to restrict guest access
  • Failing to give PPE to staff members to help prevent them from contracting the virus and spreading it to elderly residents
  • Failing to quarantine residents who tested positive, which was required by the CDC

Despite the best intentions of some staff members, it may have been very difficult to implement safety recommendations due to understaffing. This has been a chronic problem in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for many years. Facilities may be held liable for damages that result from understaffing.

Problems at Nursing Homes in Arizona

An investigation by The Arizona Republic that was published in December 2020 revealed only five nursing homes had been fined by the state, even though 64 facilities were cited for infection-control violations. Multiple inspections revealed 22 nursing homes had errors as far as infection control.

In February 2021, complaints were opened against five administrators at Granite Creek Health & Rehabilitation Center in Prescott over allegations staff members were required to work even though they tested positive for COVID-19.

According to federal data, infected workers kept working in June and the following month, 15 residents died from COVID-19. In fact, in June 2020, the facility was cited by the state because staff members were not wearing PPE.

Damages from a Wrongful Death Claim

If our attorneys validate your claim, and you decide to move forward, we are prepared to pursue maximum compensation for damages caused by your loved one’s death. Damages from a wrongful death claim are typically divided into two categories: damages paid to the estate and damages paid to family members.

Damages for the Estate

Your loved one’s estate may be able to recover compensation for:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial expenses
  • Pain and suffering before death
  • Medical bills related to your loved one’s final treatment

Damages for Family Members

You may be able to seek compensation for pain and suffering and lost care, companionship and guidance.

Punitive damages may also be available to punish the negligent party if the negligence was particularly egregious.

Have Questions About a Nursing Home COVID-19 Wrongful Death Claim? Call Today

It is very difficult to determine if you have a case on your own. It is important to meet with an experienced lawyer to discuss whether a nursing home staff member or the facility itself may be held liable for your elderly loved one’s death.

There is no risk in meeting with an attorney from Phillips Law Group, as a consultation is free, and you are not obligated to hire our firm if we validate your claim. Our lawyers charge no upfront fees and do not get paid unless you get paid.

Our firm has secured hundreds of millions in compensation and believes negligent parties should be held accountable.

No upfront fees or obligations. Call Phillips Law Group: 1-800-706-3000.   

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