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Coronavirus exposure

Provision in New York’s Budget Shields Nursing Homes from Being Sued

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.

How New York Nursing Homes Are Being Affected by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit New York especially hard – and its elderly residents even harder. And a new discovery announced by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer sheds light on just how badly nursing homes have failed their residents.

In New York City alone, not including the rest of New York State, 21,673 people have died from the coronavirus, according to the New York Times. And according to the NYT, 5,637 nursing home residents have contracted the disease, 5,403 of whom have died. Nursing home deaths account for one-fifth of coronavirus deaths in NYC.

The report from City Comptroller Stringer states that, on average, there is only one ombudsman for every 8,650 long-term care (nursing home) residents. That number should be one guardian for every 2,000 patients, according to national guidelines.

And according to Stringer’s report, there are more than 20,000 patients in 80 long-term care facilities across the city that do not have an assigned ombudsman. This includes all five boroughs: the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

Ombudsman Care Not Funded

The job of the ombudsman is to pay regular welfare checks to nursing homes, to check for neglect or abuse of the residents. But with so few social workers supplied for so many facilities, it is easy to see how neglect or mistreatment can go unnoticed.

A federal program exists to protect nursing home residents, especially during this time of global crisis. Stringer found that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Cuomo invested very little money into this program. De Blasio didn’t invest a single dollar when prompted in 2017. Cuomo invested $600,000 for the entirety of New York City, which comes out to be about $7 per nursing home resident.

The low quality of care and lack of oversight in nursing homes has been a cause for concern for decades. But if your loved one lives in a nursing home and has suffered at the hands of their caretakers, they may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering.

Contact a New York Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

If you or a loved one has suffered since the onset of the coronavirus because of a lack of care and duty at a nursing home, the lawyers at Hach & Rose, LLP want to help. We sympathize with the elderly New Yorkers who have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic. The New York nursing home abuse lawyers at Hach & Rose, LLP represent nursing home residents and families across the state, so contact our office to schedule your no-obligation consultation today.

Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken extra steps to protect the health and safety of our clients and staff. We offer online consultations and are always here to answer your questions and calls. Call us today at (212) 779-0057.

New York Construction Continues Despite Coronavirus Concerns

Despite the city being on virtual lockdown, construction jobs are still allowed to continue in New York City thanks to a loophole in the rules.

According to an article from Curbed, there are currently 4,936 construction sites active in the city. This is compared to 800 from last month, when the city was in the midst of its lockdown.

Looser Essential Building Guidelines

Originally, the city only allowed the continued construction of essential buildings, such as hospitals, infrastructure, and housing. In March, about 35,000 construction projects were put on pause to comply with this ordinance.

But since then, the city has expanded the original ordinance to allow the construction of any projects that already had ground broken prior to the coronavirus outbreak and can operate with limited in-person interactions. This would include banks, restaurants, and hotels. Additionally, “sole workers” can complete jobs in rental properties such as apartment buildings, as long as they are the only worker on the job.

These looser guidelines allow construction crews to work together on projects, potentially exposing them to the virus and putting those around them at greater risk. According to Curbed, one New York construction worker said, “To make the hotel essential, they might as well open every job, because that hotel is far from essential,” he said. “That hotel is deemed essential while we are deemed expendable.”

Frustration Over Construction Risks

Some New Yorkers are expressing confusion and frustration over what constitutes an “essential” building. According to the Department of Buildings, any structure with space allotted for medical purposes is allowed to continue construction at this time. This includes a mega Target in Elmhurst that will eventually contain an “ambulatory diagnostic treatment or healthcare facilities” in office space upstairs.

Patricia Chou, from Queens Neighborhoods United, opposes the construction of the shopping center because it unnecessarily puts construction workers at risk. “Our primary concerns are that they are endangering workers at the site and exploiting loopholes to complete this project,” Chou said. The construction project, which is on 82nd Street and Baxter Street, impedes access to Elmhurst Hospital’s emergency entrances as well.

Contact a New York Workers Rights Lawyer

If you are being taken advantage of by your construction company in New York and need legal representation, the workers’ rights attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP are ready to assist you. We have years of experience handling cases relating to OSHA complaints, work injury claims, and occupational illness. Our lawyers have won millions of dollars in compensation for victims of these accidents and are ready to do the same for you. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you decide to take legal action to claim compensation.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken steps to protect our clients and employees. We offer online consultations and are available to answer your messages and calls, so please don’t hesitate to contact us. Call (212) 779-0057 today.

When the essential become infected or otherwise injured, what rights do they have?

by: Anthony Hirschberger

Effective 8:00 p.m. on March 22nd, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered all “non-essential” business owners to effectively close their business and ask all workers to stay home to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

On the list of “essential” workers who must continue to show up at work and bravely protect New Yorkers are members of the NYPD (cops) and FDNY (firemen). Not only are these brave individuals continuing to put themselves at risk for all of the normal dangers they face in normal times, but they are also putting themselves and their loved ones at risk of contracting the serious and potentially deadly coronavirus.

Luckily, the Legislature enacted special statutory causes of action for firefighters and police officers:

  • General Municipal Law § 205-a for firefighters
  • General Municipal Law § 205-e for police officers

Unlike the common law cause of action, recovery under G.M.L §§ 205-a and 205-e is neither subject to nor circumscribed by the Firefighter’s Rule. In fact, comparative negligence is not a defense in such action. And, to recover, an injured worker must only show a reasonable connection between a violation of the law and an injury. This is a significantly relaxed standard from regular lawsuits that require the plaintiff to show that a violation was a “substantial factor” in causing the injuries claimed.

What does this mean in the context of the novel coronavirus? The law requires that there must be a “well-developed body of law” that has been violated and that the violation has a reasonable relationship to the injury. One such bday of law that has been recognized under the Municipal Laws cited above is OSHA.

Under OSHA, healthcare employers need to use a combination of controls to protect workers and help reduce the transmission of the seasonal flu virus, including:

  • Promoting, administering and making readily accessible the annual flu vaccine to all workers
  • Encouraging sick workers to stay at home
  • Emphasizing hand hygiene and cough etiquette
  • Using airborne infection isolation rooms
  • Ensuring proper functioning of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system in patient rooms, procedure rooms, and examination rooms
  • Limiting the transport of infectious patients throughout the healthcare facility
  • Limiting the number of healthcare staff who come in contact with flu patients
  • Providing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) (gloves, gowns, surgical masks, respirators) to healthcare staff and ensuring that it is used and discarded correctly.

As has been well documented by now, healthcare employees are being asked to work without proper PPE, and some are being asked to work after re-using PPE, which is an unsafe practice. If a firefighter or police officer comes into contact with healthcare workers who were not given adequate PPE, among dozens of other possible violations, and contracts the coronavirus, the injured worker may have a lawsuit against the employer of that health care worker. This will even apply if the employer is the City of New York or one of its numerous departments and agencies.

This is a fast-moving and unknown body of law, and we encourage any “essential” worker who contracts the coronavirus to contact our law firm for an immediate consultation. Furthermore, we’d also like to remind our “essential” workers that even if they do not contract the coronavirus but are injured in some other way, they should still contact us for an immediate consultation.

Hach & Rose, LLP is set up to work remotely for all of your needs while this new crisis unfolds.

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