Can You Sue for Covid Malpractice?
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the lives of many since 2020. Many of us have friends and family members who have been infected, some having even passed away due to the virus.
Since the virus made its appearance in the United States, there have been coronavirus related lawsuits. These cases contain claims of overlooked symptoms and delayed testing, resulting in a delay in diagnosis and treatment. At the time of this writing, the CDC has reported a total of 93,006,719 cases and 1,033,332 deaths due to COVID-19 since January 21, 2020.
Have you lost a loved one due to COVID-19? Like other wrongful death claims, it is important to review all of the information surrounding the circumstances of their death. This will give you some indication as to whether negligence was a factor in their passing.
Do You Have a Case for Wrongful Death Involving Covid-19?
Public health begins with the hospital you trust caring for your loved ones. Cases involving negligence on the part of a hospital or staff member usually occur as a result of:
- The lack of proper medical treatment.
- The lack of processes followed regarding the care of a patient.
This is due to either inadvertent or intentional actions taken that put the patient at risk. If a patient contracts covid while in the hospital, they may be at risk of serious tangible harm.
Hospital staff and employers alike are liable for fulfilling duty of care for patients. There was a certain standard in place for quality care prior to the pandemic. There have certainly been more pressures placed on medical staff since covid, however, they are still responsible for providing the same level of care to their patients as before.
You may be able to file a lawsuit stating wrongful death if your loved one’s passing was due to COVID-19. This is if the virus was contracted due to negligence, lack of proper care, or preventable circumstances.
An example scenario of negligence by a medical professional is their knowledge of being exposed/infected before tending to their patients. Another example that would display hospital negligence is the lack of personal protective equipment to keep healthcare workers safe while treating patients with covid. Some may argue that lack of proper treatment of symptoms or timely testing/diagnosis have led to infection and death.
COVID-19 Legislation Protecting Hospitals and Staff
A lawsuit for medical malpractice looks different in the case of a patient with covid, rather than another cause of death. The nature of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. This makes it essential to work with an attorney who understands both local and federal legislation.
There are certain provisions made for healthcare workers and hospitals. This makes it more challenging to win a case at the district level. As a result, a case in a federal court is more likely.
One notable difference between other medical malpractice cases and those involving covid is that you have less ability to pursue compensation. However, you are still able to hold those acting negligently responsible. Many healthcare facilities have struggled through the various challenges that have come with the pandemic. This has prompted a response from local and federal lawmakers, enacting legislation to protect healthcare facilities and workers.
State legislation varies from state to state, but most state and local governments have laws in place to offer healthcare professionals some coverage from liability in instances like the pandemic. In fact, many put into place their own legislation for protection of healthcare workers specific to the pandemic.
Immunity Under the PREP Act
As for federal legislation, the Declaration Under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID-19 was made effective on February 4, 2020. This declaration outlines the liability protections which cover several categories including those considered to be a “qualified person”.
The PREP Act was enacted in 2005. This act gave the federal government the ability to require private companies to provide a response during public health emergencies. We saw this take place during the pandemic, when personal protective equipment and ventilators were mass produced. The development of the covid vaccine was also expedited.
Qualified persons under the declaration include “a licensed health professional or other individual authorized to prescribe, administer, or dispense Covered Countermeasures under the law of the state in which the Covered Countermeasure was prescribed, administered, or dispensed…”.
There have been several amendments to the declaration since it was issued. Combined, these documents outline the protections and coverage for healthcare professionals. This liability shield provided to them is not necessarily a broad statement in regards to negligence. The liability immunity will more than likely cover them if the worker was operating with the best intentions in regards to care of the patient and met the standard of care necessary.
However, in some cases the hospital itself may be liable for neglecting to implement effective procedures and management of employees. Negligent acts can result in more patients contracting the virus. These can include lack of proper sanitation and requirements of infected employees to come to work. The immunity provided under the PREP Act does not cover medical malpractice or negligence on either the part of the hospital or healthcare workers.
COVID-19 Wrongful Death in Health Care Professionals
Did you have a loved one that worked in a hospital or nursing home and contracted covid? Health care professionals, volunteers, and staff are particularly susceptible to contracting covid. The CDC and local and federal governments have provided a list of guidelines to adhere to in order to help protect professionals. Hospitals are responsible for following guidelines to keep their staff and patients safe.
Employers are responsible for providing a safe work environment. They are also liable for providing the tools to keep everyone safe. These may include providing personal protective equipment, following proper sanitation practices, and giving staff time to recover from illness. All of these can help prevent a spread in the workplace.
Communication is also key. It is essential to keep staff informed and aware of potential risks so everyone can take proper measures to stay safe and healthy.
Our Law Firm Can Help: Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers
In the beginning, medical malpractice cases during the pandemic were slow to come in due to the immunity protections in place. However, as time goes on we are beginning to see more and more cases throughout the nation due to negligence in treatment of patients with covid.
Did your loved one die due to contracting COVID-19 as a patient in the hospital or as a healthcare worker? If you believe their death was caused by negligence, we can help. Our team is experienced in investigating wrongful death and personal injury claims. We are prepared to guide you through every step of proving and pursuing your case.
Schedule a consultation with us today!