Maryland Considers Immunity for Nursing Homes as Some States Roll Back Protections

New York state recently passed a law that revokes the immunity of nursing homes from liability for decisions concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent article. Over 15,000 residents and staff died in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other long-term care facilities in that state. New York had originally passed a bill granting immunity to nursing homes during the pandemic, preventing residents and their families from suing nursing homes in court for an injury or death based on negligence. Meanwhile, Maryland has considered increasing immunity for COVID-related injuries.

In January of this year, the state Senate introduced a bill that would expand immunity from claims based on COVID-19. As introduced, it would protect anyone who acts in compliance with certain regulations, statutes, and orders (including Maryland nursing homes and long-term care facilities). However, the bill would not protect people who act with gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing. The Senate bill remains pending, and a similar bill was introduced in the House. Proponents’ of New York’s law argued that the immunity protected nursing homes that made decisions even in bad faith.

Are Nursing Home Immune from COVID-19 Claims?

Under Md. Code Ann. Pub. Safety section 14-3A-06, a healthcare provider is shielded from liability if the healthcare provider acts in good faith while there is a “catastrophic health emergency” proclamation. This law was in place before the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if Maryland’s proposed bill becomes law, facilities must follow state and federal guidelines to receive immunity. As of March 1, 2021, under a Maryland directive, licensed nursing homes must comply with the guidance on COVID-19 issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Maryland Department of Health. If a resident or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, all residents who have not tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 90 days must be tested. Maryland has had more than 30,000 COVID-19 cases in nursing homes and over 3,500 deaths in nursing homes, group homes, and assisted living facilities.

Generally, when a nursing home resident suffers from abuse or neglect, a claim can be filed against the facility. As stated above, nursing homes must follow specific regulations and laws to protect residents, even during the pandemic. An abused or neglected resident may be entitled to financial compensation for damages such as past and future medical bills, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. A civil lawsuit can bring much-needed compensation to families and hold facilities accountable for their actions.

Speak with a Maryland Nursing Home Attorney

If your loved one has not been adequately cared for at a Maryland nursing home and has suffered injuries as a result, you may be able to file a claim against the facility, even if it occurred during the pandemic. Although nursing homes have some protection, they are not shielded from all liability and must still be held accountable. The Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can guide you through the legal process and provide you with competent counseling along each step of the way. For a free consultation, call (800) 654-1949 or contact them via their online form.

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