By early June 2020, New York nursing homes and adult care facilities had reported more than 5,900 deaths confirmed or presumed to be related to COVID-19. In normal circumstances, the mistreatment of senior citizens or mismanagement of assisted living facilities can often be grounds for a nursing home abuse lawsuit. However, New York has established special legal barriers to prevent suits in behalf of deceased or sickened coronavirus victims against the nursing homes entrusted with their care.
Under the Emergency Disaster Treatment Protection Act, healthcare facilities and their employees can be held liable for civil damages or subjected to criminal sanctions during the pandemic only if they acted with gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
Gross negligence is a high standard for establishing liability. It requires showing that the facility exhibited carelessness and reckless disregard for the safety of others. Intentional misconduct is even harder to prove. It equates with consciously or willfully acting in a way that is harmful to a person.
The Emergency Disaster Treatment Protection Act was a last-minute addition to the state budget approved by Governor Cuomo in April 2020, with support from the Greater New York Hospital Association. Health care facilities called it a necessary measure to protect nursing homes and other facilities that were doing their best under difficult circumstances, such as having to contend with a shortage of medical supplies. Opponents argued that the measure went too far to protect corporations while limiting the rights of individual citizens.
Under the new law, while a facility that carelessly, recklessly or intentionally failed to provide treatment to residents in need could potentially be held liable for nursing home abuse, a nursing home that made genuine efforts to help residents but failed due to incompetence could be protected from suit.
The immense toll of coronavirus in New York has left many families reeling. If your loved one died in a nursing home due to COVID-19 exposure, an attorney experienced in wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits can help you understand the legal actions available to you.
Based in Pearl River, New York, the law firm of Orak & Associates, PC advises clients throughout Rockland County, New York City and Northern New Jersey. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our dedicated lawyers, call 917-216-8819 or contact us online.