Understanding Nursing Home Immunity Laws Amid COVID-19
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on Jan 07, 2021 in Nursing Home Abuse
Wisconsin, like many other states across the country, enacted limited immunity laws early on in the pandemic to help protect frontline workers and providers in the healthcare industry from civil liability. These dedicated medical professionals continue to risk their lives every day to provide care for people infected with the coronavirus. However, these laws are not designed to create a "carte blanche" immunity for those who commit acts out of malice, willful misconduct or gross negligence.
PKSD explains more about the state's immunity laws, including when they protect workers, what exceptions exist and why you may need assistance from a qualified attorney. If you need answers to your legal questions, our trusted attorneys are ready to help. Call our firm to schedule a complimentary meeting - at no obligation to you.
Wisconsin Immunity Laws
Under Wisconsin’s legal immunity provision, the state’s healthcare workers and providers, as well as their employers, receive limited protection for injuries, deaths and other damages that may arise from medical and other healthcare services provided in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
It is important to emphasize that, when applied to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, these immunity laws are not intended to protect individuals or facilities who cause a resident harm because of gross negligence or willful misconduct. These are considered exceptions and do not fall under the protection of the immunity law. Such acts could include:
- Not cleaning or changing a resident; leaving them to sit in soiled sheets or clothing for hours or days
- Ignoring a resident who needs assistance eating, toileting or doing other daily tasks
- Not making sure a resident is properly receiving and eating food and liquids
- Physically abusing a resident
- Sexually abusing a resident
- Medication errors
These acts and others have resulted in thousands of excess deaths - separate from those caused by COVID-19. Individuals and/or facilities that are responsible for injuries or death of residents due to these types of actions are not protected by the immunity law.
Can You Sue Nursing Homes Under Current Immunity Laws?
Many people may think that because these immunity laws exist, they may have no legal options to obtain justice for a family member who was injured or died due to gross negligence. However, gathering evidence is what really makes these types of cases challenging. The burden of proving acts of gross negligence or willful misconduct is on the plaintiff - you - which is why you may benefit from the help of a qualified lawyer.
Our nursing home abuse lawyers in Wisconsin have extensive experience handling cases of nursing home abuse or neglect. We understand how current state laws may apply, including those implemented due to the coronavirus, and we are well-versed in obtaining and preparing evidence that supports a strong case.
While we need to fully understand the specifics of your situation to understand whether you may have a case, there are certain scenarios under which you may not be able to pursue a lawsuit, including:
- If your nursing home contract included an arbitration agreement, your only option may be to resolve your dispute with a third-party arbitrator
- Care provided was not due to gross negligence, willful misconduct or malice
We encourage you to speak with a knowledgeable attorney from our firm about your situation, even if you may think there are no legal options available to you. There is no risk, obligation or cost for this service.
Understanding Gross Negligence Versus Ordinary Negligence
Ordinary negligence may seem clearer when discussing car accidents or slip and falls. For example, if a driver rear-ended a car because he or she did not allow enough time and distance to stop, that could be considered ordinary negligence. However, if a driver aggressively sped up to run a red light and collided with another vehicle, that may be considered gross negligence.
In nursing homes, making this determination requires a thorough understanding of existing care standards and whether an individual provider or facility took reasonable measures to meet them.
Gross negligence might be if a caregiver or facility knew a patient needed help eating to avoid choking on his or her food, but was ignored and the patient choked to death. Other instances of gross negligence may include:
- Medication errors
- Being left for hours or days in soiled clothing
- Not being given food or water, resulting in malnutrition, dehydration or death
- Falls that could have been prevented
Call Our Trusted Law Firm for Your Free Consultation Today
If you are concerned for your loved one or believe he or she is in danger due to acts of gross negligence or willful misconduct, it is important that you take steps to protect your loved one immediately. This could include contacting the facility administrators and local authorities to inform them about what has happened.
After reporting an incident, we recommend that you seek legal help as soon as possible. Our team of legal professionals at PKSD are experienced and have a proven history, recovering millions in compensation for our clients.
We are prepared to listen to the details of your concerns, discuss potential legal options and answer any questions you may have about how the claims process works.
We charge nothing for the initial consultation – and there is no obligation to pursue a claim. There are also no upfront costs if we represent you. We do not get paid our fees unless you receive compensation, therefore there is no risk to you.
Experienced lawyers fighting for you. 877-877-2228