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Can I Sue an Arizona Nursing Home Over a COVID-19 Death?

Posted on July 7, 2021 in

Less than 1% of the American population lives in nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities. Yet deaths among nursing homes account for 34% of all COVID-19 deaths since March 2021. About 8% of people living in long-term facilities died from COVID-19. Residents of these care facilities are among the most vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus. Nursing home residents were not adequately protected from the disease until (only if in a quality nursing home) the introduction of vaccines—nearly 10 months after the pandemic began.

While it is impossible to prevent all of these deaths, not all nursing homes took the proper precautions when protecting their residents. If your loved one passed away while living in a nursing home due to COVID-19, contact our wrongful death attorneys at Jensen & Phelan. We will investigate your claim and inform you of your legal options for free.

Were Nursing Homes Negligent in Fighting the Coronavirus?

If you and your attorney can prove that the nursing home was negligent in not protecting its residents from the coronavirus pandemic, you might be able to pursue a wrongful death claim. There are several factors that you must consider first.

Did Nursing Home Follow Federal Guidelines to Reduce Risk of COVID?

The United States learned about a mystery virus hitting China in late 2019. By the time Americans were catching the virus, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidelines to control the spread at long-term care facilities in March 2020. CMS officials based their information on guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The March 2020 guidelines from the CMS included:

  • Screen residents and employees for fevers or respiratory symptoms
  • Restrict visitors, except for compassionate care
  • Restrict volunteers and nonessential personnel

Throughout the pandemic, CMS continued to update its guidelines for long-term care facilities. For example, an April 2020 update advised all facilities to do temperature checks every day and have management screen employees for any COVID-19 symptoms. If the nursing home did not continue to follow CMS, CDC, and state guidelines, they might be liable for any COVID-19-related deaths.

Did the Nursing Home Follow Infection Control Guidelines?

Unfortunately, many nursing homes did not follow the CMS and CDC guidelines to protect their residents. Family members accuse nursing homes and long-term care facilities of failing to:

  • Tell residents or their family members they tested positive for COVID-19
  • Follow social distancing guidelines
  • Provide PPE to staff members to prevent them from contracting or spreading COVID-19
  • Quarantine residents who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Restrict guests and other visitors

Despite the good intentions of some staff members, some nursing homes failed to implement safety measures due to understaffing, budget restrictions or/or overcrowding. If so, facilities may be liable for a family member passing away due to the coronavirus in a nursing home.

Arizona Governor Makes it Harder to File Wrongful Death Claim Against Nursing Homes

In mid-2020, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a Good Samaritan Executive Order that protects most health care professionals from liability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Ducey later extended the Executive Order in 2021 with no expiration date. With this Executive Order, families who sue nursing homes over wrongful death must prove that the facility failed to provide reasonable care and that administrators or employees knowingly and voluntarily disregarded reasonable precautions. Proving this is challenging, and the care facility will likely have a team of experienced lawyers protecting them. That is why you need to hire an Arizona wrongful death attorney with experience in nursing home COVID death cases.

Speak to a Skilled Wrongful Death Attorney in Arizona Today

If your family member died from COVID-19 and believes nursing home staff negligence caused the death, contact the wrongful death attorneys at Jensen & Phelan. Since Governor Ducey made it more difficult to sue nursing homes, having a proven attorney on your side is vital. To schedule a free consultation, call (928) 778-2660 or complete our online contact form today.