The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the headlines for the past year, and has affected Washington, D.C. residents just as it has affected the rest of the nation. Many Washington, D.C. residents have fallen ill or even died from COVID-19, and many families are mourning loved ones but are unable to gather in-person to celebrate their lives. But amidst all this, personal injury accidents are still occurring in Washington, D.C. and across the nation—some totally separate from COVID-19 and some as a result. Some of these accidents, occurring in overcrowded and understaffed hospitals, raise questions about hospitals’ legal duty to protect patients.
For example, take a recent accident that made national headlines. According to the New York Times, an 82-year-old man was being treated for COVID-19 at a hospital when he was bludgeoned to death with an oxygen tank by his roommate at the hospital, another COVID-19 patient. The men were sharing a two-person room, and the victim began to pray one morning, angering his 37-year-old roommate, who then struck him with an oxygen tank. He was pronounced dead the next morning. The roommate was arrested and charged with murder and elder abuse. Bail was set at $1 million.
This is not the first time someone has been killed in a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals all across the country are overwhelmed, overcrowded, and understaffed, potentially setting the scene for incidents such as this. For example, the New York Times reports that in April of 2020, an 86-year-old woman died at a hospital when another patient shoved her for breaking social distancing guidelines.
These incidents are tragic and occur when a family is already going through tremendous hardship as their loved one battles COVID-19. They also raise important questions about holding the hospital responsible for the deaths. Hospitals generally have a duty to protect their patients and to not be negligent when it comes to their health and well-being. Failing to prevent a patient from killing another patient may very well be a violation of this duty, leading to legal liability. But the standard of care during the pandemic may be different, and hospitals may try to escape liability in some cases by pointing to the impact the pandemic has had on them. Because these cases can get complicated quickly, those impacted in accidents such as this one should contact a personal injury attorney to help them navigate the legal issues that arise.
Contact a Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries in a Washington, D.C. hospital, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Call the personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, today to schedule a free initial consultation and discuss the specific facts of your case. Our attorneys understand that times are tough right now, especially while recovering from injuries suffered, and want to help you and your family seek justice. Our goal is to help you and protect your legal rights every step of the way, so that you and your family can focus on recovery without worrying too much about legal documents or proceedings that we can handle for you. We handle all types of injury claims, including Washington, D.C. premises liability cases, car accident claims, and more. To learn more, call us now at 800-654-1949, or fill out our online form.