IN THE NEWS: INDIANA NURSING HOMES SHIELDED FROM COVID-19 LIABILITY SUITS
“In 27 states, nursing homes have gotten special legal protections during the COVID-19 pandemic” reports Ina Jaffe of National Public Radio, meaning that families can’t sue if someone they love got sick or died of COVID-19 in a nursing home. The nursing homes say, Jaffe explains, that they’re doing the best they can, and need those legal shields. Meanwhile, here in Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill providing businesses, including nursing homes, with immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits. True, the bill does provide exceptions to civil immunity for gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. Still, echoing the concerns expressed by NPR, critics in Indiana worry that Senate Bill 1 could provide protection against legitimate claims of abuse or neglect that have nothing to do with the pandemic.
“One thing the pandemic has made clear is that the Indiana General Assembly needs to take a serious look at the state’s long-term care system,“ an editorial in the Herald Bulletin asserts, pointing out that “Even before the pandemic reared its ugly head, the state was far behind in its routine inspections.” 92 of Indiana’s 534 nursing homes have the lowest possible rating from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
At Ramey & Hailey Law, family members of nursing home patients often turn to us with terrible tales of suffering and death. Those people trusted caregivers in facilities to alleviate the suffering of their loved ones and to preserve their quality of life. Sadly, it seems, that level of dedicated effort is too often not being put forth.
Civil court litigation is still a path towards alleviating the situation, and family members must be willing to speak up, allowing legal professionals to bring those matters of wrongdoing and neglect into the courts.