Recently, an industry news source recorded a fascinating podcast including an interview with a former assistant U.S. attorney who discussed legal issues that could arise for nursing homes from the COVID-19 pandemic. The podcast discusses how nursing home abuse and neglect cases may be affected by the virus. The information is very important for residents of Maryland nursing homes or those who have loved ones in these facilities.
The podcast discussed the various immunity laws passed for health care providers as a result of the pandemic in states across the country. These laws are not brand new—some states have long had immunity provisions that kick in automatically whenever a state of emergency is declared. Most of the current immunity provisions in effect now during the COVID-19 pandemic change the level of culpability that facilities can be held to in nursing home abuse or neglect cases that have to do with the disease.
Typically, someone bringing a nursing home abuse or neglect case has to prove that the actions of the facility amounted to negligence and contributed to resulting injuries, illness, or death. However, the immunity provisions typically increase the standards. According to the podcast speaker, the provisions basically say that nursing home facilities and the individuals working within them will no longer be responsible for negligent behavior. Instead, they can only be held liable at a higher standard, such as gross negligence or reckless disregard. This makes it much harder for victims of nursing home abuse or neglect to hold the facilities responsible, because it’s a higher bar of proof to reach. In other words, it might not be enough to show that the nursing home or employees acted negligently or carelessly and caused the spread of COVID-19 or even a COVID-related death. Instead, potential plaintiffs might have to prove that the nursing home was extremely careless, perhaps even maliciously or willingly, which is much harder to prove as a matter of law.
This higher standard could impact many nursing home and abuse claims. During the pandemic, nursing homes have been hit particularly hard, with high infection rates and deaths coming from communal living and potentially substandard levels of care. Many cases are likely to come up against nursing homes during the pandemic, attempting to hold these facilities responsible for COVID-19 infections due to inadequate staffing, safety protocols, and infection control processes, and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). While these cases may not be impossible to win, they may have become more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact a Maryland Nursing Home Attorney
If you or a loved one have questions about filing a Maryland nursing home abuse or neglect case during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, reach out to Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers. Our attorneys are available for free initial consultations to discuss your options and your case. With decades of experience, you can trust our dedicated attorneys to handle your case skillfully and zealously defend your rights. Call us today to learn more at 800-654-1949, or you can reach us through our online form.