My Spouse or Parent Died from COVID-19 in Nursing Home – Can I Sue?

Nursing Home Abuse

There is nothing worse than losing a spouse or a parent and many people have lost a loved one from COVID-19 in a nursing home. Losing a spouse or a parent can feel like losing a part of ones’ self and may be the most challenging thing that a person ever experiences. One thing that can add to grief is wondering whether or not the death could have been prevented had the deceased individual received better care. While nursing homes throughout Schaumburg and the surrounding areas of Illinois have a duty to treat their patients with a high level of care, sometimes, this duty is not maintained and the health consequences are significant or even fatal.

COVID-19 In Nursing Home

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some nursing homes were ravaged and many residents died as a result of complications from the virus. So, there are questions of whether or not a nursing home can be held liable for the death of their residents from COVID-19.

If your spouse or parent died from COVID-19 while a resident of a nursing home and you are wondering whether or not you can sue, here’s an overview of what you should know about nursing home liability for a coronavirus-related death. If you think that you might have a case, please call our nursing home abuse and wrongful death lawyers at Claim Your Justice for a free consultation where we can learn more about your case and provide you with information that is specific to your situation.

What Is a Nursing Home’s Duty of Care?

When thinking about a nursing home’s liability, which means legal responsibility, for a nursing home resident’s harm or death, one must first understand a nursing home’s duty of care. It is only when the duty of care to a resident is breached that a claim for monetary damages exists.

A nursing home owes an elevated duty of care to the patients and residents it treats, and the healthcare professionals within a nursing home, such as the doctors and nurses, are bound by the legal standard of care.

Typically, the standard of care is described as the same degree of care that another professional of similar background or training would exercise in the same situation.

In the case of a nursing home, a nursing home may be found liable if a staff member fails to exercise their professional duty of care by treating a nursing home patient with the same level of care that another professional would have exercised. The nursing home can be held liable if it fails to implement reasonable practices and protocols, and this failure leads to a nursing home resident’s harm or death. A nursing home can also be held liable when a law or regulation is violated and this violation leads to residents’ harm or death.

What Is Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

When a nursing home or its staff members engages in abuse or neglect, the duty of care owed to a resident has been breached.

Nursing home abuse refers to abusive actions that are committed with intent. Abuse falls into four categories:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional and psychological abuse
  • Financial exploitation

Nursing home neglect, on the other hand, does not involve intent. Nursing home neglect is often a result of understaffing, poor nursing home staff training, cost-cutting measures, or an inadequate staff-to-patient ratio. Nursing home neglect may include things like failing to ensure that residents are properly bathed and groomed, failing to regularly move residents who are bedridden to prevent bedsores, failing to assist residents during mealtimes to ensure they get the nutrition and hydration they need, and more.

Negligence, the failure to exercise the required degree of care, in regards to this blog, was the cause of the spread of coronavirus in nursing homes. If a nursing home resident contracted the coronavirus because of nursing home negligence, the nursing home could be held liable.

Wrongful Death Claims From COVID-19 In Nursing Home

Similar to a personal injury claim, a wrongful death claim exists when the wrongful or neglectful act of one party leads to the death of another. In order to bring forth a wrongful death claim against a nursing home, you will need to prove that the nursing home breached the duty of care owed to the nursing home resident by acting wrongfully or negligently and that the breach of the duty of care was the proximate cause of death.

Actions that Could Lead to the Spread of COVID-19 In Nursing Home

There are a handful of actions that could lead to the spread of COVID-19 within a nursing home, some of which breach common sense and best practices; others of which may breach recommendations or even laws set by the state and various agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Examples of these include:

  • Failing to provide staff and residents with masks
  • Failing to properly sanitize patients’ rooms
  • Failing to check the temperatures of staff members before allowing them to treat patients
  • Failing to require infected staff members to remain at home
  • Failing to properly wash hands and change masks between patients
  • Failing to require staff to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) or undergo COVID-19 test to prevent transmission of the virus between staff and patients
  • Failing to train staff on best practices for limiting the spread of the disease
  • Failing to provide adequate care to patients who became infected with COVID-19
  • Failing to quarantine infected patients to prevent the spread of the disease to other residents
  • Failing to maintain proper ventilation within the nursing home

If you think that one of the above actions, or another negligee action not listed, may have been the cause of your loved one contracting the disease, call Claim Your Justice.

Nursing Home Immunity & COVID-19 in Illinois

On May 13, 2020, the state of Illinois issued an order providing immunity for medical facilities, such as nursing homes, from liability for residents’ deaths related to COVID-19. Specifically, the Executive Order found that all healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities are “immune from civil liability for any injury or death relating to the diagnosis, transmission, or treatment of COVID-19….” This does not mean that the surviving loved ones of those who died as a result of a coronavirus-related infection in a nursing home do not have any claim for damages against the nursing home, but it does mean that for as long as the Executive Order stands, claims can only be brought forth if plaintiffs are able to prove gross negligence or willful misconduct. Specifically, the Executive Order states “this section is inapplicable if it is established that such injury or death was caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct of such Hospital or Health Care Professional if 20 ILCS 3305/15 is applicable, or by willful misconduct if 20 ILCS 3305/21 is applicable.

Gross negligence is a lack of care that demonstrates a reckless disregard for the safety of others, which may be so great that it appears to even be a conscious disregard for others’ wellbeing; willful misconduct means that the party knew that it was acting negligently but decided to do so anyway — in other words, there was intent. While it is more difficult to prove gross negligence or/and willful misconduct, it is not impossible, and you should still consult with a Claim Your Justice attorney if you think that you have a case.

Why You Should Consult with a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect or Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Whenever nursing home abuse or neglect occurs, and whenever the negligence of a party leads to the death of another, it is essential to consult with an attorney. Because of the protection from liability in Illinois, consulting with a lawyer is even more critical than before. Our attorneys will provide you with a free consultation and provide you with their professional assessment and analysis, and then advise you on how to proceed. If our nursing home abuse and neglect attorney thinks that you have a case, we can represent you on a contingency fee basis. This means that there is no fee unless we recover money for the injured person or their family.

Call the Law Office of Claim Your Justice Today

At the law office of Claim Your Justice, our Schaumburg, IL wrongful death and nursing home abuse lawyers understand the pain you’re experiencing after losing your spouse to COVID-19 in a nursing home. When you call our firm, we can review your case at no cost to you and help you to understand your options. Call us today at 847-434-3555 or send us a message online to learn more about how we can help.

How Do I Get Compensation For Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing Home Neglect

Learning an elderly loved one has been neglected at a nursing home, leading to harm, is a terrible and depressing feeling; we all want to believe our loved ones are receiving the care that they both need and deserve.

Unfortunately, though, both nursing home neglect and abuse permeate the system and, sometimes, nursing home residents suffer physical or psychological harm, including early death, as a result.

If you believe nursing home neglect has led to a loved one’s harm, you should schedule a free consultation with a Claim Your Justice nursing home abuse attorney who can advise you about what steps to take and how to get maximum compensation. Here’s an overview of what you need to know about nursing home neglect cases and your right to seek damages.

What Constitutes Nursing Home Neglect?  

Nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Nursing home abuse usually refers to active instead of passive acts that involve intent, such as physically abusing a nursing home resident, sexually abusing a resident, financially exploiting a resident, or emotionally/psychologically abusing a resident.

Neglect, on the other hand, often does not involve intent and is more passive; neglect may be the result of poor nursing home staff training, understaffing and a poor staff-to-patient ratio, etc. Examples of neglect include:

  • Failing to properly assist and monitor nursing home residents during mealtime, resulting in dehydration or malnutrition
  • Failing to properly bathe, wash, or assist in grooming a nursing home resident
  • Failing to administer the proper medication or administer medication when needed/prescribed
  • Failing to move a bedridden nursing home resident, resulting in bedsores
  • Failing to respond to a nursing home resident’s request for help in moving, such as getting out of bed to use the bathroom, resulting in injuries like bedrail injuries, slip and falls, etc.

The above list is not inclusive, there are numerous injury types that can occur when a nursing home resident doesn’t receive the level of care that they deserve.

Is Nursing Home Neglect Illegal?

There are some actions that may be taken by nursing home staff that are certainly against the law. For example, sexually assaulting a nursing home resident is heinous and should be punished in the criminal system. In most cases, though, nursing home neglect will not result in any criminal liability. That does not mean, however, that it won’t result in civil liability.

While nursing home neglect may not be a crime, it is a breach of the standard of care owed to residents. Nursing homes are professional medical facilities staffed by medical professionals and other professionals and, as such, a medical or/and professional standard of care is owed to the residents/patients.

The medical or professional standard of care is the same degree of care that another medical person/ professional of similar background and training would demonstrate in the same situation. Nursing home residents (and their family members) have a reasonable expectation that the residents will not be neglected; when this expectation and duty of care is breached and harm results, the nursing home can be held liable for significant damages.

What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect

If you suspect nursing home neglect, taking action sooner rather than later is strongly recommended and can help you to protect your elderly loved one and others within the nursing home.

  • Call the police. If you think that abuse or neglect is occurring that is putting residents at threat of imminent bodily injury, do not hesitate to call the police.
  • Collect evidence. If you think that nursing home neglect is occurring, you should try to collect evidence of the neglect – this will be important when you file a complaint or file a claim for damages. Photographs that indicate neglect (i.e. pictures of bedsores), medical records of your loved one, and more are all types of evidence that may be valuable.
  • Give notice to the nursing home. It’s always a good idea to have a conversation with the nursing home manager about your concerns before taking drastic action (unless, as mentioned, you believe imminent harm is a risk). Provide a nursing home manager with an overview of your concerns (in writing). In some cases, bringing awareness to the issue may be all the correction that’s needed.
  • File a complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health. If the issue of neglect isn’t remedied immediately or if you believe that your loved one has suffered harm as a result of the neglect, you should file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The IDPH will investigate the complaint and work to protect residents’ rights. You can file a complaint by phone or mail.
  • Talk to an attorney. Finally, do not hesitate to consult with a Claim Your Justice attorney if you believe that neglect is occurring and a loved one is being harmed. An attorney can advise you of your rights and help you to build your case.

Filing a Nursing Home Neglect Case

If you believe that nursing home neglect is occurring, you have the right to bring a claim or a civil action for damages. In order to win your case, you’ll need to prove that the nursing home breached the duty of care owed to the nursing home resident and that the breach of the duty of care resulted in actual harm/damages.

If you can prove this, you can recover compensation for the value of medical expenses incurred, pain and suffering damages, funeral and burial expenses (if the nursing home neglect resulted in death), and any other economic or noneconomic damages suffered. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a Claim Your Justice attorney who can guide you through the process of filing your claim.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing Home Neglect

Claim Your Justice attorneys know that you have multiple questions about nursing home neglect, the claims process, your rights, and what steps to take when you suspect that neglect is occurring. Consider the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we hear, and reach out to our lawyers directly for more information about your rights.

  1. How long do you have to file a lawsuit against a nursing home?

In general, you have two years from the date of the nursing home neglect to file a lawsuit against the nursing home. If you wait longer than two years, you can be barred from recovery. Note that this does not mean that you should wait up to two years; instead, it’s best to start the claims process as early as possible and, only if a settlement cannot be reached, file a lawsuit before the two-year limit is reached.

  1. What is the statute of limitations for nursing home abuse?

The statute of limitations is the legal time limit on how much time can pass between when the nursing home abuse occurs and when you file a lawsuit. As noted above, the statute of limitations in most nursing home abuse or neglect cases is two years. Note that the two-year statute applies to both personal injury cases and wrongful death cases involving nursing home abuse/neglect.

  1. How do you prove nursing home neglect?

In order to recover compensation for nursing home neglect, you’ll need to prove that the nursing home owed a duty of care to the resident (implied), that the nursing home breached this duty of care, that the breach of the duty of care was the proximate cause of injuries, and that actual damages, either economic or noneconomic or both, were suffered. In order to prove these four elements, you’ll need compelling evidence.

Photographs, video footage (if it exists), the nursing home resident’s medical records, any complaints filed against the nursing home, and experts’ testimonies can all be useful in proving neglect. At the firm of Claim Your Justice, our lawyers can help you to understand the type of evidence that is most useful in a nursing home neglect claim, as well as how to win your case.

  1. What is passive neglect?

Passive neglect is nursing home neglect that doesn’t involve any intent; in fact, passive neglect is often the result of inaction rather than an intentional action. For example, if a nursing home is poorly staffed and there are not enough medical professionals, staff members, and nurses to ensure that all patients are receiving a high level of care, a nursing home resident may get neglected, resulting in malnutrition, bedsores, a slip and fall accident, etc.

While passive neglect may not be intentional or the fault of one specific nursing home staff member, it is still unacceptable and is a breach of the duty of care owed to a resident.

Call Our Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys Today

If you believe that nursing home neglect is occurring or if your elderly loved one has been harmed by nursing home neglect, call our Schaumberg, IL nursing home neglect attorneys directly today. We offer free consultations and there is no fee unless we win.