Did your loved one get sick or pass away from COVID-19 at a Carlsbad nursing home? If so, Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers is ready to represent you in your case and help pursue the financial compensation you and your loved one deserve for your suffering.
COVID-19 is a virus that has turned our country upside down. Thousands have fallen ill, and many have succumbed to the disease. Unfortunately, nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable groups, and viral infection could prove fatal. If elderly individuals get diagnosed with COVID-19, their health could deteriorate rapidly.
Staff members at nursing facilities are supposed to follow proper protocol when interacting with COVID-19 patients. If they fail to comply with federal and state regulations, they could become liable if one of their patients gets sick or dies.
The Carlsbad COVID-19 elder abuse attorneys from Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers can meet with you for a free consultation to discuss your loved one’s case and advise you on the legal options available to you. Call us at (888) 233-5020.
Strategies to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released strategies for nursing homes to prevent COVID-19 from spreading to other residents and staff members. These strategies include the following:
- Identify and isolate infected residents quickly
- Restrict outside visitors to the facility
- Maintain adequate supplies and resources
- Train and educate staff on protocols
- Prepare for an increased capacity of supplies, staff, and equipment to handle the virus
- Wash hands between contact with residents
- Use gloves, gowns, masks, and other protective equipment when interacting with an infected patient
Although you might think your loved one is safe in their nursing home, you always have to advocate for their rights and safety. Elderly individuals are more susceptible to diseases. They’re older, have compromised immune systems, and could have an underlying illness that increases the severity of an infection. If an older adult gets COVID-19, they’re more at risk of death.
At the first sign of infection, nursing home staff should isolate the resident and keep them away from other residents. Nurses and staff members should continue to care for them but limit contact whenever possible. If they do enter the patient’s room, they should use disposable gloves, gowns, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves from getting the virus and spreading it to others. The facility is also required to notify the CDC within 12 hours of a positive test and let the resident’s family know.
How Is a Nursing Home Liable for a COVID-19 Diagnosis?
If your loved one tested positive for COVID-19, there’s a good chance that the nursing home didn’t take adequate precautions to prevent it from spreading. You could file an insurance claim or lawsuit for compensation for the resulting damages.
Whether your loved one recovered from the virus or passed away, you could hold the nursing home accountable for their negligence. Negligence is the legal basis for one party’s failure to act in a way that prevents harm to another. There are five elements of negligence you’ll need to prove existed if you want to pursue legal action against the nursing home:
- Duty: The nursing home owed your loved one a legal duty of care;
- Breach: They breached their duty;
- Cause in fact: If it wasn’t for the breach, your loved one wouldn’t have gotten COVID-19;
- Proximate cause: The nursing home’s actions were the direct cause of your loved one’s diagnosis; and
- Damages: Your loved one incurred damages as a result of testing positive for COVID-19.
To file a lawsuit against the facility for your loved one’s diagnosis of COVID-19 or death from the disease, you’ll need to comply with the state’s statute of limitations for personal injury. In California, the statute of limitations is two years. That means you have two years from the date of your loved one’s diagnosis or death to file a lawsuit with the civil courts against the nursing home. If two years pass, you’ll lose your right to sue for this particular matter.
Damages Available for COVID-19 Patients in Nursing Homes
If your loved one was treated for COVID-19 and recovered, you could file a claim on their behalf for the damages they suffered. Damages are losses the victim of an accident or injury incurs. Two categories determine the type of loss. Economic damages are actual expenses, while non-economic damages are intangible forms of suffering.
The damages available in a nursing home COVID-19 insurance claim include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Hospital expenses
- Short or long-term medical assistance costs
- Medical equipment
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress or psychological injury
Punitive damages are also available under certain circumstances. Rather than compensating your losses, punitive damages punish the liable party for their actions. When the court evaluates a claim for punitive damages, they will consider the following three factors:
- The severity of the defendant’s misconduct;
- Actual harm or total damages suffered by the plaintiff; and
- The defendant’s financial standing.
The nursing home’s or a staff member’s actions also must fall under one of the following definitions:
- Malice: The defendant intended to harm the plaintiff or behave in a way that disregarded others’ safety.
- Fraud: The defendant intentionally misrepresented, deceived, or concealed material facts from the plaintiff to deprive them of their rights or cause harm.
- Oppression: The defendant subjected the plaintiff to unjust and cruel hardships to consciously disregard their rights.
The judge and jury will determine an appropriate amount in punitive damages. California doesn’t place a cap on the financial award available to injured victims and their families. It will be up to the court to review the facts of your loved one’s case and decide if they deserve compensation for their suffering.
California Laws for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If your loved one died from COVID-19, you could pursue a wrongful death case. There are California laws that determine who can file and what the deadline is. To move forward with a wrongful death claim, you must prove the following elements:
- Someone died;
- The death was the result of another party’s negligence;
- The surviving family members incurred monetary damages because of the death; and
- There’s a personal representative for the deceased’s estate.
As with personal injury cases, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is two years. That means you have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file with the civil court system for compensation.
Specific individuals can file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the deceased victim, including:
- The personal representative of the estate
- Surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Surviving children
If there isn’t a surviving spouse, domestic partner, or child, the following people could file the lawsuit:
- Surviving parent
- Surviving sibling
The compensation of damages depends on who would benefit from them. They either compensate the estate for losses resulting from the death or surviving family members for their losses.
The following damages contribute to the deceased individual’s estate:
- Funeral and burial costs;
- Lost income plus future income if the nursing home patient survived; and
- Hospital and medical expenses from COVID-19.
The damages owed to the surviving family members could include:
- Loss of love, attention, affection, community, guidance, or support;
- Loss of household services; and
- Loss of financial support the nursing home patient would have provided if they were still alive.
There’s crucial evidence that could prove your loved one suffered due to their COVID-19 diagnosis, and you suffered after their death. An experienced Carlsbad COVID-19 elder abuse attorney from Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers will perform an investigation into your case and locate the necessary evidence, such as:
- Medical records and medical bills
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Nursing home records
- Police or incident reports
If we’re unable to prove the nursing home was negligent in causing your loved one’s death or diagnosis of COVID-19, we won’t be able to secure compensation. Seeking legal representation immediately after the event could help your chances of securing a favorable outcome. Over time, witness memories could fade, and evidence could get misplaced or destroyed. If you hire us right away, we can begin building your case with reliable evidence.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Afford a Lawyer?
Many people choose not to hire a lawyer because they don’t think they can afford it. You might believe you’re better off pursuing the case alone and will end up with more money that would typically go towards legal fees. Unfortunately, many personal injury victims don’t understand the process and become overwhelmed.
At Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers, we don’t want to add additional financial strain to our clients. That’s why we offer our No Fee Guarantee®. We don’t expect upfront payment for our legal services. If we win your case, that’s when we’ll collect our fees and costs. If we don’t win your case, you won’t owe us anything.
Let Us Fight for Your Loved One’s Rights
If your loved one tested positive for COVID-19 at their nursing home or passed away due to complications from the virus, contact Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers. Our Carlsbad COVID-19 elder abuse attorneys will fight hard to ensure they secure the maximum compensation you deserve.
We know this is a challenging time. You thought you could trust the nursing home to keep your loved one safe. Their careless actions led to a diagnosis of COVID-19 and various debilitating symptoms. When you hire us, we’ll work efficiently on your case to reach a positive outcome so that you can move forward.
To find out more about our services and how we can help you and your loved one after their COVID-19 diagnosis, call us at (888) 233-5020 to schedule a free consultation.