What are the scenarios under which organizations serving seniors are being sued by plaintiffs such as residents, their families, employees or regulatory entities due to COVID-19?

 Organizations serving seniors are being sued for “negligence” that causes death or serious injury to their residents or employees serving their residents. The circumstances leading to lawsuits will increase as the pandemic spreads.

Negligence is imposed when an organization serving seniors has a duty to a person, and the organization breaches that duty by its actions or failures to act, thereby causing injury. The duty imposed on organizations serving seniors arises when governmental entities impose through licensure or emergency state actions restrictions to slow down spread of disease that endangers the public. 

Has your organization educated your management and employees on adherence to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requirements to prevent infections or spread of disease? Have you advised these same individuals of state- or governor-imposed restrictions? 

Have you established policies and procedures and educational programs to ensure compliance with all such governmental requirements? Have you established procedures to keep your policies up-to-date as the governmental requirements are modified?  

Also, have you provided everyone who comes into contact with residents proper personal protective equipment and training on how to use it?

The pandemic may impose on organizations serving seniors a series of different liabilities from numerous plaintiffs alleging a breach of duty causing injury. You should take action now to reduce your potential liability.