Assisted living facilities, much like other health care providers, must maintain a safe environment for their patients. Unfortunately, the recent coronavirus pandemic highlighted weaknesses in the infrastructure. Florida legislators have introduced two bills that would potentially shield assisted living centers and other long-term care facilities from legal liability for a COVID-19 death. Contact our Miami wrongful death attorney to learn more.
A Tale of Two Bills
Bills have been introduced in both the Senate and the House. They operate in different ways:
- The Senate bill requires someone bringing a claim to offer sufficient detail that a provider’s intentional misconduct or gross negligence injured a person in any lawsuit involving COVID-19. This bill also offers immunity from claims where supplies or personnel were not reasonably available to help comply with COVID-19 standards. This bill protects assisted living communities and other healthcare providers.
- The House bill requires that plaintiffs provide a signed affidavit from a doctor attesting that the claim was the result of intentional misconduct or gross negligence on the part of a provider. Plaintiffs also need to prove that their provider did not engage in a good faith effort to comply with health standards at the time they were injured.
These bills are not terribly unusual. They are clearly designed to bar frivolous lawsuits based on COVID injuries or deaths. One advantage of working with a seasoned attorney is that we can ensure you meet these standards.
Why Do Facilities Need the Protection?
The senior living industry has sought these protections for months, arguing that they were forced to take sick patients to help ease the burden on hospitals. However, they are not designed to handle patients with communicable diseases. Thus, they want to avoid liability unless there is proof that they were grossly negligent in protecting residents—a higher standard than in the typical malpractice lawsuit.
Already, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against facilities for deaths or injuries caused by the novel coronavirus. Currently, 21 states and the nation’s capital have provided liability shields for COVID-19 related lawsuits, though these shields vary.
Whether you can sue for the death of a loved one will depend on many factors, including whether either of these bills is signed into law. For now, the regular wrongful death laws are in effect.
Call Us to Learn More
The Miami wrongful death attorneys at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP are prepared to help clients who have lost a loved one during the pandemic. To learn more, contact us today by calling 305-371-2692 to schedule a free consultation.