As wrongful death lawsuits pile up from the families of deceased nursing home residents, nursing homes are increasingly attempting to escape liability. Last year, nursing home lobbies spent over $4 million dollars lobbying Washington for expanded legal protections during the pandemic. Now, numerous nursing home facilities that are facing wrongful death lawsuits are requesting judges to move litigation from state courts to federal courts. Their reason for doing so is so that nursing homes can take advantage of federal liability protections and avoid compensating families of wrongful death victims.
Some protections are warranted given that nursing homes faced a shortage of staff and equipment during the pandemic, but Congress did not intend to give sweeping immunity to bad actors and shoddy providers. Valiant hard-working nursing home staff are deserving of praise particularly given shortages in staff and supplies. However, families of deceased loved ones deserve justice for instances of neglect and incompetence such as failures to follow proper covid-19 protocols or improperly placing infected patients in the same rooms and facilities as uninfected residents. To make matters worse, families were very often unable to visit their dying loved ones or not informed of positive Covid-19 diagnoses. Therefore, providing immunity for instances of injustice just adds insult to injury.
Litigation is still in the early stages. Some nursing homes have succeeded in getting federal liability protections, though judges have rejected the requests of others. Nevertheless, nursing homes that are not initially afforded liability protections will likely appeal these rulings, which could drag these cases out for years and discourage other families from filing lawsuits. While nursing home residents only comprise 1% of the total population they account for over 20% of the 132,000+ coronavirus deaths, thus more litigation is likely on the horizon.
The most vulnerable among us deserve the utmost attention and care. Yet, this last year has shown that those entrusted with the care of family members in nursing homes have in many instances fallen short. For over the past 30 year, attorney Kevin Garrison has sought justice for personal injury victims. Garrison Law Firm has provided legal aid and representation to numerous nurse nursing home victims. Garrison Law Firm Welcomes all questions and can be reached either by phone or online.