Nearly 97,000 residents and staff from America’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, with over16,000 residents and staff member deaths, representing roughly a quarter of the nation’s overall deaths. Federal and state laws are in place to protect nursing home residents’ basic rights and ensure they are free from abuse and neglect in their living situation. Common forms of abuse include “unintentional abuse” and may be relevant to wrongful death from COVID-19 treatments in Michigan nursing homes.

Standards of care enforced.

If a nursing home accepts Medicare, the nursing home must follow Federal Regulations which set forth industry’s standard of care. One of these regulations is 42 CFR sec. 483.25 (h) which provides the facility ensure a resident’s environment remains as free of hazards as possible and adequate supervision is provided, along with a provision of providing adequate medical treatment in line with the current medical standard of care.

Nursing home abuse claims include acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger and deviations from NHRA could place a resident at risk and may be considered acts of unintentional negligence.

Compensation for loss.

If unintentional neglect due to methods of treating COVID-19 led to a wrongful death of a loved one, a family may be compensated if they can prove that negligence was involved.  Elements that will determine the value in a case of nursing home abuse include:

  • Economic damages: these are expenses such as hospital and medical bills;  and financial losses associated with loss of work income.  Economic damages are relatively easy to calculate, especially if complete record keeping was maintained surrounding the incident and related expenses.
  • Non-economic damages: these damages include compensation for the pain and suffering that the defendant’s actions may have caused. Values for non-economic damages are harder to determine and depend on legal counsel and other expert research, experience, and assessment of the case.
  • Punitive damages: monetary compensation meant to punish defendants for intentionally harmful or careless behavior  and discourage peers from committing similar acts.

When damages are awarded in a wrongful death case, Michigan wrongful death law requires hospital, medical, funeral, and burial expenses to be paid from the damages award. The remaining damages are then split among the family members and individuals named in the deceased person’s will.

Liability and wrongful death.

A legal professional who specializes in nursing home laws may be able to assist in piecing information together to prove negligent acts of staff and administration caring for Michigan nursing home residents.  If a nursing home resident died of COVID-19 complications because they were not isolated once staff became aware of related dangers, a degree of  responsibility may fall onto the facility. Wrongful death legal actions arise out of grave injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act of another. An experienced attorney can navigate the way the laws are interpreted for compensation to Michigan families.

Sources.

Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987

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