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North Carolina was one of the first states to pass legislation protecting front line workers in the midst of a global pandemic. Brought before the General Assembly in the beginning of May, the COVID-19 Recovery Act included 70 pages of provisions that included new laws that limited liability for healthcare workers, essential businesses , and emergency response entities in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation was signed into law May 4 by Governor Cooper.

For those looking to pursue medical malpractice due to negligence of a covid-19 claim, it could become more difficult under this specific COVID-19 legislation. Before, a person could pursue compensation for negligence in any medical situation, including if a doctor prescribed incorrect medication or forgot medical equipment in a person’s body during surgery. However, a person’s ability to sue for monetary damages, whether economic or non-economic, is limited if the negligence occurred during treatment for or in relation to COVID-19.

While a person’s abilities to pursue compensation are minimized, there is still the opportunity for a person to hold a medical party, whether a hospital, physician, nurse, or medical tool manufacturer liable for their negligence in a case of medical malpractice. With an attorney at your side, you could hold negligent parties accountable despite some of the newer legislation.

What is the COVID-19 Legislation?

Within the many pages of legislation that were passed in early May, a section labeled Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act specified how health care liability protection would be instated in North Carolina.

As many healthcare facilities struggle to manage the effects of coronavirus, whether in care facilities or hospitals, law makers responded to expressed concerns about being held responsible for actions or omissions related to care. Many healthcare workers are having to make tough decisions about who gets what care because of shortages, leaving the possibility of a medical malpractice claim because the standard of care has shifted due to the restraints of the pandemic.

The Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act details some of the heavier protections allowed to those in the healthcare industry in response to COVID-19. One of the most pertinent elements to medical malpractice claims is that healthcare workers are granted immunity from legal responsibility for damages if they are related to the coronavirus pandemic. This is not complete immunity, but rather a blanket statement that says if a healthcare professional was acting in good faith and doing their best services in the realm of COVID-19, then they may be absolved of any negligence.

How This Impacts Medical Malpractice Claims

For those injured in a medical setting, this new legislation may seem very restrictive. Under the laws stipulations, it says that any action or lack of action done directly due to treatment of coronavirus or done in good faith by the healthcare worker could limit their liability if a patient were to suffer complications from negligence.

As an example, someone sent home with medications for an illness because there is no space in a hospital, and the person who has worsening symptoms that lead to disability, may not be able to pursue compensation due to the negligence of the hospital who was operating under new COVID-19 regulations. Of course, each case is unique and carries with it its own special situation, but some are worried this legislation may encourage reckless behavior or subpar care in health settings.

While these laws do not completely protect healthcare workers, it does severely limit the actions a patient could seek compensation for if they are injured during this unprecedented time. There are still pathways for a person to hold a negligent party accountable, but a person may benefit from working with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to navigate the complicated legislation that has recently rolled out in order to reach their full rights.

Contact an Attorney Today

While many people are taking significant protections to keep themselves safe from the novel coronavirus, there are still instances where a person may need to go to a healthcare setting for routine care. Even though many healthcare workers are expertly trained and caring, some may act carelessly or disregard a patient under the new regulations.

The North Carolina legislation has created a trickier legal field to navigate, but this does not mean that a person must sacrifice their medical malpractice claim. In fact, our knowledgeable attorneys could utilize their years of experience law to ensure that your case is respected and carried through to its rightful compensation.

Whether you or someone you love has been involved in a case of medical malpractice, you could benefit from reaching out to our dedicated team at the Whitley Law Firm. As the law has become more nuanced, our team could utilize years of medical malpractice knowledge to ensure that justice is served to you.

If you would like to begin your case today, or simply ask one of our attorneys a question about your unique case, our lawyers at the Whitley Law Firm are ready to help. Contact our firm today to learn more.