Restoration of Nursing Home Liability – A Return to Common Sense By David Worby on April 15, 2021

Last year at this time during the height of the COVID pandemic, New York imposed immunity protections in favor of nursing homes.  The purpose was to shield these facilities from liability for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.  This provision permitted virtual blanket protection for all acts of negligence committed in the treatment and care of nursing home patients.  Prior to a partial rollback in August 2020, nursing homes were shielded from liability for all acts of negligence, whether related to COVID-19 or not.

Treatment Protection Act

nursing homesEarlier this month, New York enacted the Treatment Protection Act, which repealed that law of immunity.  The White Plains accident lawyers at Worby Vecchio Edelman are proud members of NYSTLA, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.  NYSTLA was a leader in the efforts to repeal this anti-consumer legislation.

The threat of civil liability as a penalty for acts of negligence is meant to protect the public.  That is not a radical concept; if a person or a company acts in a negligent manner and that negligent action causes damage, that person or company is responsible to pay for those damages.  The threat and consequence of civil liability act as a check on what might otherwise be unregulated conduct.  As a simple example, responsibility to pay money damages to an injured party incentivizes a supermarket manager to require that a “Wet Floor” be used when an employee cleans a spill, so that people walking in that area will know that the floor is wet, and to act accordingly.

COVID-19 and New York Nursing Homes

The effect of COVID-19 on New York nursing homes has been well documented.  Less known is what effect immunity from liability has had upon the treatment and care of some very vulnerable nursing home residents.  A withdrawal of the threat of civil liability and its concurrent monetary sanctions simultaneously removes a powerful incentive for healthcare corporations to offer proper treatment and care to patients.  As a matter of fairness, negligent actions should bear consequences. 

The Threat of Liability to Nursing Homes for Mistreatment of its Patients

The Legislature’s action in repealing this harmful legislation restores the threat of liability to nursing homes for mistreatment of its patients.  New Yorkers no longer have to be concerned that placement of a loved one in a nursing home can lead to injury without the threat of liability.  Oversight in any industry is a good thing, and can only benefit the consumer.

Defendants in lawsuits still have plenty of protection.  The burden of proof remains with the Plaintiff.  That means that in order to recover, the person bringing a negligence lawsuit has to provide proof of that negligence.  The Plaintiff still has to find an attorney to take the case, most likely on a contingency fee, so that the attorney earns a fee only if money is recovered.  Each side is entitled to a jury trial. 

The notion that a person or a company should be responsible for the consequences of their actions is not a political statement.  Rather, it’s a matter of simple fairness.  Negligent actions can and often do cause permanent injuries.  Nursing homes should not be permitted to use the COVID pandemic as a shield to protect them from the consequences of their actions.

Contact our White Plains Accident Lawyers

Civil justice and access to the judicial system is a sacred right, and is protected by the United States Constitution. The White Plains accident lawyers at Worby Vecchio Edelman LLP support that constitutional guarantee.  Call us if you’ve been injured in any type of accident.  We’ll take all of the information, and listen to everything you have to say.  Once we have all the facts, we’ll tell you if we think you have a case, and we’ll tell you if we think you don’t have a case.  Either way, we’ll make sure you understand the reason for our opinion.  The consultation is free, and there’s no obligation. 

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Worby Vecchio Edelman LLP

The personal injury attorneys at Worby Vecchio Edelman, LLP, have advocated for the rights of injured clients for over 40 years. Our attorneys' affiliations and recognitions include:

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