As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues to ravage the country, there is one place where this virus is particularly deadly. This is in nursing homes. The virus is particularly deadly to those who are elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Given that nursing homes are typically filled with elderly individuals who live in close proximity to one another, this places nursing homes at extreme risk of being harmed by COVID-19.
Sadly, thousands of elderly New Yorkers have already passed away from the virus. Many of these individuals are located in nursing homes. Furthermore, there is an immunity law in place that may shelter nursing homes from potential legal action and liability lawsuits.
The NY Immunity Law
Many of the nursing homes throughout NY are poorly staffed and undersupplied. This combination means that nursing homes may not be able to adequately care for and protect their residents as COVID-19 continues to spread. Recently, an immunity measure was passed which shields nursing homes from liability. While this relieves administrators, many advocates fear that this law is simply going to allow the nursing homes to hide behind the law in cases of neglect that may turn deadly.
In an executive order passed in March, the state of New York granted a significant shield to both nursing homes and their staff as they were desperately trying to procure enough equipment to adequately care for their residents. While this is admirable, this should have been done much sooner/ Now, with a pandemic that has killed thousands of people across the state, families may be out of options if they believe their loved one passed away due to negligence on behalf of the nursing home.
Other Options Are Available
There are still ways that a family can take legal action against a nursing home for the death of a loved one. If the nursing home doesn’t have enough PPE, they might be held liable in cases of gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or intentional harm. For example, if the nursing home never made an attempt to improve their situation, they could still be held liable for this gross dereliction of duty; however, this would be a high bar to clear.