Who Can Be Held Liable for New York Nursing Home Deaths?

Communities in New York are dedicated to stopping the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the state has declared various cautionary measures to control the spread of the disease throughout the state. Tragically, despite these measures, New York is still facing a substantially high number of deaths due to the illness. If your loved one passes away in a nursing home from covid-19, it’s common to be left with various questions. One of the most common questions that people ask is who should be held accountable following such a devastating loss. This article considers such an occurrence.


How Families Respond to the Loss of Loved Ones from COVID-19


It’s never easy to say goodbye to a loved one, but COVID-19 tends to deprive individuals of the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved one in a face to face environment. Many times when a loved one passes away from COVID-19, good-bye’s must be made through digital means like Facetime. Due to this risk of transmission, family members and loved ones ultimately lose out on the closure of seeing a loved one for the last time. This closure can greatly help say goodbye to a loved one.


How the Pandemic Spreads at Nursing Homes


The New York State Department of Health published a COVID-19 report addressing the presence of the disease in nursing homes. Asymptomatic carriers or people who are not aware that they have the condition are believed to be one of the earliest and most common carriers of COVID-19. Additionally, because people who have the disease are not immediately aware that they have the illness, several weeks to days often elapse between exposure and when a person is aware that they have the illness. 


The Recommended Level of Control


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established various recommendations about what precautions should be utilized to avoid exposing nursing home residents to the illness. These guidelines recommend that nursing home facilities should:


  • Have at least one on staff member to oversee COVID-19 safety protocols
  • Refer to the Nursing Home Reopening Guidance for State and Local Officials
  • Accurately report data regarding on-site COVID-19 cases
  • Appropriately inform residents and visitors about how to best prevent COVID-19
  • Supply and utilize personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Implement visitor restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19
  • Have a system in place to inform staff about COVID-19


Remember, if a nursing home fails to follow these standards, this can later be used as factors to establish that the nursing home fell below the accepted standard of care to keep a loved one safe. This accountability exists despite Senate Bill S8835 which was recently passed to Governor Cuomo that was created to remove a provision affording nursing homes and long-term care facilities immunity from facing legal action for failure to protect residents from the coronavirus.


Speak with an Experienced Elder Law Attorney


At Ettinger Law Firm, our attorneys understand that the elderly as well as their loved ones can end up facing countless obstacles in maintaining the best conditions possible. Ranging from adequate estate planning to elder abuse, if you have questions or concerns about these issues one of the best steps that you can take is to speak with an experienced attorney. Contact our law office today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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