Important Information Regarding COVID-19 for Family Members of Seniors and Dependent Adults in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

As of April 18, 2020, more than 21% of California’s estimated 1,224 skilled nursing facilities have reported COVID-19 cases among either a resident or one of the health care workers within the facility.  This number is likely under-reported and does not indicate the severity of each case. In New York, it is estimated that 25% of all COVID-19 deaths are related to nursing home residents.  The absolute most important duty of nursing homes and assisted living facilities is to keep residents safe.

Has My Loved One Been Exposed to COVID-19 in Their Nursing Home?

Many nursing homes in California are not informing family members or patients of COVID-19 exposure. Here is an active list of nursing homes that have reported one or more COVID-19 case (please note there may be more nursing homes or assisted living facilities that have not reported): https://www.cdph.ca.gov/COVID-19/

Our attorneys know that residents of nursing homes and assisted living homes are some of the most vulnerable populations in California and our mission is to advocate for their rights. Since January 2020, the California Department of Public Health has issued several guidance memorandums for nursing homes that must be followed in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

If a loved one has been affected by COVID-19 while at a nursing home or assisted living facility please contact us to discuss legal options.

Why Infections Spread Quickly in Nursing homes

There are many reasons why COVID-19 may be spreading at a high rate within the network of California nursing homes and assisted living facilities, these can include:

  1. Inadequate Infection Plan: Every facility in California is required to have an infection plan. During the COVID-19 crisis, the California Department of Public Health has released several additional guidelines, including adequate distancing, provide instructions for reporting symptoms, notify family and potentially exposed staff. These specific guidelines can be found here:                                              https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/LNCAFL20
  2. Failure to properly train staff: The staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities often have inadequate or outdated training and may not fully understand the requirements to control infections, this is especially important during the COVID-19 crisis because many staff members work at various facilities and can carry the virus from facility to facility. Failure to provide updated training on the prevention of a virus like COVID 19 can lead to nursing home outbreaks.
  3. Accepting new patients that have tested positive for COVID-19: In these situations, it is extremely important to abide by all the California Department of Public Health guidelines. California facilities may be required to allow patients with active COVID-19 symptoms to be admitted into nursing home or assisted living facilities, if this is the case it is most important to follow all guidelines.

Remember, it is the DUTY of the facility to prevent the outbreak of infectious diseases within the facility. If your family member contracted the COVID-19 virus while at a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact one of our attorneys to discuss possible legal actions.

What California Laws Can Hold a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility Legally Accountable if a Loved One Becomes Infected with COVID-19 While at the Facility?

There are various laws that may hold nursing and assisted facilities criminally responsible, however it is up to government attorneys to uphold criminal laws.

Civilly, California has several laws that can help hold a facility responsible for certain negligent acts that lead to the spread of COVID 19. The main rules are contained in California’s Welfare & Institutions Code. Under this code, a facility can be held liable if they are neglectful of the health of the residents. The most important duty under this section is that facilities must protect residents from health and safety hazards.

The COVID-19 outbreak is unprecedented, this means facilities must take extreme caution to avoid outbreaks. If you believe a facility where a loved one is residing is not taking sufficient steps to protect your family member from COVID-19, contact one of our attorneys.

What to do if a Loved One Has Been Exposed to COVID-19 While in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility?

  • If you believe your loved one has contracted COVID-19 while at a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact an attorney as soon as possible and note any obvious mistakes made by the facility.
  • If your loved one has been exposed but not yet tested, request they be tested immediately, if medically possible.
  • Ask to review the facility’s infection plan, every nursing home is required to have one. Ask your loved one if the plan was carried out.
  • Ask about measures being taken to protect the residents of the facility.
  • Stay in touch with your loved one remotely when feasible. Use Facetime, Zoom, Skype, etc to talk to your loved one and keep their spirits high during this crisis.

What to do if Your Loved One has Passed Away from COVID-19 While at a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility?

Losing a loved one is completely devastating. Our attorneys are trained in empathy and can help you navigate all legal options. Our commitment is to:

  • Investigate the circumstances of your family’s particular case
  • Use experts to determine if there was a failure of care (negligence) that may have caused exposure to COVID-19
  • Hold any party responsible legally liable under the civil laws of California when appropriate.

What Can Our Family Recover if We Lost a Loved one to COVID-19 Due to Nursing Home or Assisted Living Home Negligence?

Types of compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one is found in the California Code of Procedure § 377.61. The statue as interpreted by various cases over time find that, depending on the case, there may be compensation for:

  • Loss of love, companionship, comfort, assistance, affection, protection, moral support
  • Loss of the decedent’s training and guidance
  • Loss of financial support
  • Funeral and burial expenses

If a family member witnessed the abuse or neglect, and suffered emotional distress as a result, claims for “negligent infliction of emotional distress” on their behalf might be appropriate and should be investigated by an attorney.

In elder abuse cases additional recovery can be sought for attorney fees and the decedent’s pain and suffering before death, under Welf. & Inst. Code, § 15657(a).

Who can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit or Claim Against a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Home for Negligence Leading to the Death of a Family Member?

In California, only certain family members may file a claim for the wrongful death of another. While every case is different, the following family members may have a claim for wrongful death: spouses, children, parents, and siblings. There are some exceptions, if you have questions about whether or not you may file a claim for wrongful death, please contact our firm and ask an attorney directly.

How Much Will it Cost Our Family to Hire an Attorney and Investigate and File a Claim for a COVID 19 Death of a Family Member in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility?

Our firm works on a contingency basis for elder abuse claims, this means your family will not pay anything until there is monetary recovery. This means Corrales Law Group will pay all upfront costs of investigations, hiring of experts, retaining all medical records, etc.

How Can I Consult With An Attorney During Stay at Home Orders?

Many areas in California are under stay at home orders. Our attorneys want families to stay safe and have moved to a fully digital platform. Our attorneys provide consultations via Zoom meetings, Facetime, Skype, and Telephone. All documents may be signed easily through e-mail via Docu-sign. Contact us to set up a consultation today.

 

CORRALES LAW GROUP

171 S. Anita Dr. Suite 206

Orange, CA 92868

Toll Free Phone: (844) 474-4878

Local: 714-978-8100
Fax: 714-978-8111

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