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Apr 6, 2020 4:00 PM ET

Will legal action be warranted for COVID-19-related nursing home deaths in California?

iCrowd Newswire - Apr 6, 2020

Reasonable precautionary measures.

California long term healthcare facilities have reported increased cases of COVID-19 resulting in death. The COVID-19 virus is a new coronavirus suspected to occur in certain species of animals, more recently emerging to spread between humans through respiratory droplets that are forced into the air when sick individuals sneeze or cough and is passed through close contact between people. Nursing homes are a perfect setting for communicable diseases such as COVID-19 to attack the unarmed at-risk population who live in close proximity to each other with shared sources of food, water, air, medical staff and equipment.


Duty of care.

Administrative personnel must take reasonable measures to ensure caregivers follow updated state protocols, along with those already in place to protect residents in long-term residential health care facilities.  Nursing home abuse covers acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger.


Disease spread.

Patients over the age of 60 and those with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and facilities should engage in the isolation precaution practices they have utilized for respiratory infections such as influenza.  California news outlets report 27 people at a skilled nursing facility in Orinda have tested positive for the coronavirus; at least 57 residents and staff of a Yucaipa nursing home were infected with the virus, including two people who died, and San Bernardino County officials have told the facility to assume all of its patients have COVID-19; a cluster of infections has been reported at a San Diego senior living home, where at least four residents and two employees have tested positive and other residents are reportedly showing symptoms; and in Los Angeles County, the Department of Public Health was investigating 321 cases of coronavirus among staff, residents and guests of 67 institutions as of Friday. Deviations from facility cleanliness, staff hygiene and administrative infectious disease protocols could place a resident at risk and may be considered acts of unintentional negligence.


Statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in California is two years from the date of the decedent’s death, but when medical malpractice is involved it could be as short as one year from the time of the incident, and if action is against a government agency it may be six months, with reasonable support that a defendant’s negligence or intentional action played a role in causing a death.


Seek legal counsel.

Contact a personal injury attorney in California if you, or a loved one suffered injury, or death caused by unsafe practices, inadequate precautions and sustained exposure to other sick long-term care residents to discuss your case.

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