It was unheard of just a year ago, but within a short time turned the entire world upside down. In less than a year, COVID-19, also called the “coronavirus,” has disrupted millions of lives and made a large number of people ill, some fatally.
Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 for a number of reasons. Many have underlying health issues such as diabetes and hypertension that allow the virus to take hold. The enclosed nature of a nursing home gives a virus plenty of available hosts to infect. Residents are also further isolated from family and friends local and statewide lockdowns and quarantines may not understand why they are being isolated, or why they can’t see anyone.
The Severity Of Coronavirus In Elders
With underlying health conditions, they have a compromised immune system and can’t fight off the virus. Consequently, elderly people are impacted more seriously than younger patients. Those under 35 are just .08% of COVID-19 fatalities. A full 45% of deaths from COVID-19 are in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Nursing homes have drawn scrutiny because of the way COVID-19 has spread in these facilities.
Protecting Residents From COVID-19
Infection control is one of the most important functions a nursing home must perform. Failing to do so can lead to an outbreak of a disease such as COVID-19, especially if the home failed to follow the guidance of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
- Failure to enact social distancing measures and enforcing them
- Failing to enact temperature and symptom checks for COVID-19 for everyone entering the facility, including
- Contract health worker (i.e., contract nursing staff)
- Anyone else
- Failing to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) as needed
- Failing to limit non-essential persons and visitors
- Failing to quarantine staff or residents who test positive for COVID-19
- Failing to transport a resident to a hospital who tests positive for COVID-19
- Failing to have separate staff for residents who test positive for COVID-19
- Failing to inform family members that a resident has tested positive for COVID-19
Other negligent or inadequate infection control measures that result in the death of a resident can also be a cause for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Filing A Nursing Home Wrongful Death Suit
Whether someone died from COVID-19 or another cause, the basis is the same: a nursing home resident died as a result of someone else’s negligence. A case requires these criteria:
- A person’s death
- The death was caused by neglect, a default, or wrongful action by an individual, a company, or a governmental entity
- The deceased could have if he or she lived, been entitled to sue the individual, company or governmental entity for damages as a result
An individual representing the deceased (other than the deceased’s relatives) must bring about the lawsuit within two years of the person’s death. West Virginia law allows the court and/or jury to award damages to a surviving spouse and children of the deceased. If parents, siblings, or other relatives are financially dependent on the deceased, they may be entitled to recover damages.
Wrongful death damages can include medical expenses, funeral, and other final expenses on behalf of the deceased, as well as punitive and other damages.
Protecting Charleston’s Vulnerable Residents During The Pandemic
If you’ve lost a loved one during the pandemic to a nursing home’s negligence,reach out to a West Virginia nursing home neglect lawyer. We can help you get justice for your loved one.
Contact The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 for a free consultation. We’ve helped thousands of West Virginians fight for their loved ones in nursing homes, and we’re ready to help you.