Washington family files first wrongful death suit for COVID-19

Apr 17, 2020 | Wrongful Death

Many of Washington State’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have sprung from nursing home facilities. The virus spreads rapidly in such facilities due to the close quarters and frequent interaction between staff and residents. Tragically, numerous elderly patients with compromised immune systems have passes away due to complications from coronavirus.

One such patient was an 84-year-old resident of a nursing home in Kirkland. Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility—the first coronavirus-related wrongful death suit against a nursing home in Washington State.

Allegations of nursing-home negligence

The lawsuit alleges that the nursing home did not take adequate precautions to prevent an outbreak. For example, the plaintiff claims that the facility did not quarantine patients but instead held several gatherings that facilitated the spread of COVID-19. The nursing home allegedly failed to report its first known case for 17 days, even though the county required it to report any suspected outbreaks within 24 hours.

Lack of adequate care is a common complaint in lawsuits against nursing homes. Not every lawsuit needs to involve physical abuse. Neglect that leads to injury or death can also be grounds for a lawsuit.

Lawsuit has far-reaching implications

The fate of this lawsuit remains to be seen. For a wrongful death lawsuit to succeed, it must demonstrate that another party’s negligence led to a death and that the surviving family members have suffered damages as a result. This standard, however, is very difficult to prove in court.

If this particular suit is any indication, then the state may see many more lawsuits against nursing homes and other care facilities as the pandemic progresses. Wrongful death actions can be a valuable resource for families who lose elderly loved ones to negligence, even if it does not pertain to COVID-19.