NORTH CAROLINA – September 30, 2020

Duty of care.

A duty of care is the legal duty owed to individuals, or the public, requiring other individuals, or entities to exercise reasonable care.  In cases of negligence, a court will determine if the victim of harm was owed a duty of care.  A duty of care is measured by the circumstances surrounding a specific incident and South Carolina statutes, contracts, professional relationships, property interests and other circumstances establish the parameters of that duty and whether, or not a victim was owed that duty.  Nursing home residents are owed a legal duty of care, as outlined in federal and state laws.  Consultation with an experienced attorney about individual nursing home resident cases is advised to determine the duty owed, and the harm encountered, based on a possible breach.  Special duties of care can also apply when there is a special relationship between the person that owes the duty of care and the person that benefits from it, such as residents of assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

South Carolina laws.

South Carolina nursing home facilities have standard operating procedures requiring administrative personnel to protect residents.  During the pandemic for example, they are required to take action to isolate sick residents in residential facilities to control disease spread.  In accordance with South Carolina Nursing Home Laws (S.C. Code Section 44-7-260), “An infection isolation room shall be made available if ordered by the attending physician for a resident who has a communicable disease that poses a threat to the health, or safety of other residents, or who for some other reason requires isolation and only to the extent that is required to protect the resident and others.”  If a facility is unable to care for the resident to the degree which assures their health and safety in addition to other residents of the facility, they should be moved.  When residents suffer harm directly related to a negative nursing home encounter that exacerbated an existing health condition, or placed them in danger, a skilled lawyer can identify the appropriate duty of care supporting legal action.

Disease spread.

Nursing home residents are at higher risk of infection complications due to age and chronic underlying medical conditions.  For example, residents who have been exposed to COVID-19 should be monitored closely and facilities should engage in isolation precaution practices utilized for respiratory infections such as influenza.  Deviations from facility cleanliness, staff hygiene and administrative infectious disease protocols could place a resident at risk and may be considered acts of unintentional negligence.

Statute of limitations and legal counsel.

The statute of limitations for fatal personal injury claims in South Carolina is three years from the date of death, but in certain cases, could extend as long as six years under reasonable belief that a defendant’s negligence, or intentional action played a role in causing a death.  Contact an experienced attorney at the McDougall Law Firm if you, or a loved one suffered injury, or an untimely fatal outcome caused by unsafe nursing home practices, inadequate precautions, and sustained exposure to other sick long-term care residents.

McDougall Law Firm, LLC

115 Lady’s Island Commons
Beaufort, SC 29907

Phone: 843.379.7000


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