The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the deaths of over 100,000 Americans and counting. Elderly people who reside in nursing homes, in particular, are at a higher risk of dying from this virus than many others. Around the world, outbreaks within these facilities have resulted in multiple preventable deaths; experts attribute 42% of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths to long-term care facilities.
Kansas is no exception to these occurrences. Now, families are taking legal action against these facilities, seeking justice for the wrongful death of their loved ones.
New Lawsuits Against Kansas Nursing Homes
Families of nursing home residents have filed numerous lawsuits against multiple care facilities, including Brighton Gardens in Prairie Village. Rehab centers may also be the subject of these lawsuits, such as Riverbend Post-Acute Rehabilitation in Kansas City, where 132 patients and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 and 36 people died.
The plaintiffs of these lawsuits state that the outbreaks are not the failure of any individual staff member, but the facilities as a whole. Failure to enforce social distancing guidelines, forcing sick employees to come into work, and allowing visitors into these facilities have contributed to the transmission of COVID-19 within Kansas nursing homes.
In response to these claims, many facilities are invoking the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, which would essentially relieve health care providers from liability. However, the legal counsel for the families of the deceased are fighting diligently to bring the claim before Kansas civil courts.
Proving a COVID-19 Wrongful Death Claim
All civil lawsuits rely on the presence of negligence, and a wrongful death claim is no exception. Families pursuing legal action against long-term care facilities must establish the following elements to receive compensation.
- Duty of care: First, the plaintiff must establish that the at-fault party owed the deceased person a duty of care at the time of his or her death.
- Breach of duty: Next, the plaintiff must show that the at-fault party breached his or her duty of care to the defendant in some way. This will likely involve the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Causation: Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the breach of duty directly caused the death of his or her loved one.
In the case of COVID-19 wrongful death lawsuits in Kansas City, an attorney can easily establish the duty of care element; families trust the facility to care for their loved ones, and the facilities must uphold that duty of care. The cause of the outbreak would constitute breach of duty — whether the facility failed to test its employees, denied a sick request, or decided not to enforce a mask requirement.
Causation can be difficult to prove in these circumstances. The attorney will need to identify how the deceased came into contact with the virus, and whether or not this contact constitutes a negligent act. Luckily, most wrongful death attorneys will have access to the resources necessary to investigate and identify the cause of the outbreak.
Have You Lost a Loved One Due to a COVID-19 Nursing Home Outbreak?
The COVID-19 pandemic is devastating, and it is important that all of us take proper precautions to prevent the spread of this virus. If you lost a loved one in a nursing home that failed to protect him or her against COVID-19, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the facility as well.
Do You Believe Your Loved One May Be Experiencing Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect in Kansas City, Missouri?
If you feel your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse or neglect you should speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 816.832.4688 to schedule your free consultation. We are proud to serve Kansas City, Missouri and the surrounding area and look forward to speaking with you.