The coronavirus has killed at least 5,403 nursing home residents in New York since the outbreak hit the U.S. Families of the deceased want to sue the nursing homes for being ill-prepared for the virus, but a hidden provision in New York State’s budget bars families from taking legal action against nursing homes.
According to the New York Times, nursing home industry lobbyists pushed Governor Cuomo’s aides to include specific language in the state’s sprawling budget bill. This measure protects healthcare facilities, like nursing homes, from getting sued due to deaths related to the coronavirus.
Officials Defend Measure
Cuomo’s aides told the New York Times that the goal of this measure is to shield healthcare workers from facing the complicated fallout of a legal battle while in the midst of a global pandemic.
Dani Lever, a spokesperson for Cuomo, said, “This legislation is not intended to shield any bad-acting facilities during this tragic time, but rather to ensure facilities could continue to function in the face of potential shortages and other evolving challenges the pandemic presented.”
New York is one of 15 states that introduced some form of protective legislation for healthcare providers during the pandemic. While the measure does not protect against criminal misconduct or gross negligence, it likely protects nursing home staff from complaints of staff shortages, protective equipment shortages, and overcrowding.
Nursing Homes Hit the Hardest
Part of the reason why nursing home industry representatives lobbied for the inclusion of this measure is because staff and nurses struggled to stop the virus from spreading immediately after the outbreak. Many nursing homes did not have access to testing kits, gowns, or masks.
But, undoubtedly, the virus has hit nursing homes the hardest. Nearly one-third of all coronavirus deaths in the United States have been nursing home residents. Family members are searching for ways to take legal action against the nursing home facilities that failed their parents, grandparents, and siblings. Some families had trouble even getting basic information from their loved one’s nursing home.
Nursing homes in the U.S. are notoriously understaffed and ill-maintained. The coronavirus pandemic has only highlighted these shortcomings. Usually, visiting relatives and state inspectors were the watchdogs of irresponsible, and sometimes even abusive, nursing home employees. But now the virus has made it impossible for families to visit, and even inspectors are in short supply. This lack of oversight spells death for many nursing home residents.
Contact a New York Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If your loved one was injured or killed by the coronavirus and the lack of care from their nursing home staff, the lawyers at Hach & Rose, LLP want to help. Our team is committed to finding solutions to your legal troubles and doing all the legwork so you can focus on healing. As New Yorkers ourselves, we take it personally when the elderly residents of our city are disproportionately affected by this global pandemic.
Contact us to schedule a no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we have taken extra precautions to ensure the health and safety of our clients and staff. We offer online consultations and are always available to answer your calls. Reach out today at (212) 779-0057.