COVID-19: The New Reality
The pandemic has had disastrous effects on Covid-19 Nursing Home Liability. Human life, societies, and economies have taken enormous hits. The financial, human, and emotional impact of this virus is unprecedented. The world is confronting a new reality with social distancing rules which will likely be here to stay until a vaccine is found. This new reality brings with it new challenges, opportunities, and liabilities. Especially for nursing homes.
Many businesses and workplaces are now being confronted with additional obligations to keep their workers and clients safe from the virus. If businesses and workplaces are not properly managed exposure to the virus will likely increase and cause harm.
COVID-19 Nursing Home Liability
Nursing homes have been identified as COVID-19 hot spots with high numbers of infections and deaths of employees and patients. The high rate of infection and mortality have made the headlines and show a disproportionate impact of the virus in the nursing home industry.
It is more likely than not there will be a rise in negligence claims resulting from COVID-19 given the public has become more aware of the poor care in many nursing homes.
If a nursing home’s procedures and practices to safeguard against infection are deemed below par and patients get infected with COVID-19, the nursing home may be liable for a negligence claim, if there was no other avenue for the patient to have been infected.
A nursing home as an obligation to keep its patients and residents safe. Nursing homes are typically covered by liability insurance. Claims against nursing homes for the transmission and infection of their residents/patients by COVID-19 would be based on negligence and breach of the Occupiers Liability Act.
Responsibility of the Nursing Home
Each nursing home has policies, procedures, and legislative requirements to meet in order to maintain a safe and secure environment, free of abuse and neglect, for its residents. If there was an omission or act whereby the home’s policies, procedures, or legislative requirements were not followed, liability for the transmission and infection of residents by COVID-19 may be found.
However, liability for COVID-19 transmission and infection in nursing homes is uncharted territory in courts. COVID-19 is a disease with an infection rate much higher than other illnesses for which nursing homes’ policies and procedures have been devised. Whether or not the policies and procedures put in place by a nursing home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to their residents are reasonable will be a challenging exercise for the courts to determine and for plaintiffs to prove.
A plaintiff would need to prove that the policies and procedures in place in a nursing home to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 were deficient and that it was reasonably foreseeable that the home’s residents would contract the virus. Unfortunately, the high rate of infection and numerous infection paths of COVID-19 make it very difficult to control its spread. The question is should nursing homes be held to such a high expectation when the virus is so virulent.
As the claims are brought forward and run through the system we will see how COVID-19 Nursing Home Liability is determined and will likely learn what is the appropriate standard of care these homes ought to be held to in a world where COVID-19 and future viruses like it, continue to exist.
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