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Attorney John Dalli Speaks on a Family’s Right to Say Goodbye to Their Loved One

The pandemic’s arrival brought with it unquantified destruction to so many lives. For nursing homes, this destruction was unimaginable, often resulting in residents passing away without being able to say goodbye to their loved ones. Due to the highly-contagious nature of COVID, nursing homes restricted any visitors at all. While this was done for the public’s safety, it still brought with it mental and emotional anguish for many families.

Dalli & Marino, LLP knows just how devastating this anguish was for many people, and attorney John Dalli worked on many cases where elder care patients were abused or had their rights denied. If you or a loved one also went through this, reach out to us today, as we can help you get any compensation you may be owed. 

The Blatant Denial Of Your Rights

While COVID was sweeping across New York, one of the remedies that state and medical facilities put in place was to restrict people from visiting these facilities unless they needed to. This meant that unless you had an urgent medical matter, you could not go on the premises. The rationale was that by visiting your friends or loved ones in the hospital, there was a possibility you could spread the virus further.

Specifically, there was a chance you could infect vulnerable patients at nursing homes. It was a blatant denial of your rights, both as individuals and as families of residents. While it was a noble venture, there was also a downside to it, as family members could not visit their loved ones in long-term care facilities, even if they were about to pass away.

For months, many families endured the agony of watching their loved ones pass away via video call. Patients also had to be quarantined, and their last moments on earth were spent alone. The kind of emotional anguish both parties had to endure is undetermined, bringing us to the problem this quarantine order exposed. 

Why Would Medical Care Facilities Do This?

Most long-term care facilities defaulted to the wording of the Emergency Disaster Treatment Protection Act, which stated they could not be held liable for COVID cases within their facilities. For a long time, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have been taking advantage of New York’s outdated wrongful death laws.

Many medical care facilities denied entry to family and friends due to the unknown nature of how COVID would spread to others, along with the already vulnerable nature of the elderly patients in their care. While many places did this out of care and worry for their residents, it still caused emotional grief and suffering that you may be able to get compensation for, especially if your loved one passed away during the pandemic. 

What Changes Occurred After the Pandemic?

Both houses of the New York Legislature approved sweeping amendments to the Grieving Families Act. If the bill is signed into law, the next of kin can sue for non-financial damages, including emotional pain and suffering. The adjustments also expand the definition of family to include domestic partners, children, spouses, parents, grandparents, siblings, and step-parents. However, the law also provides mechanisms for considering the victim’s circumstances when determining who their loved ones are. 

Under the amendments, if signed into law, families would be entitled to compensation on various issues such as:

  • Grief as a result of the victim’s death
  • Loss of education, training, advice, guidance, and counseling
  • Mental disorders directly linked to the victim’s death
  • Consortium loss
  • Other monetary damages

The current New York Governor, Kathy Hochul, has made it a priority to hold nursing homes and other long-term care facilities accountable for the deaths of thousands of residents during the height of the pandemic if the said establishments are found to be liable.

What Is Your Right To A Proper Goodbye?

If your loved one passed away during the pandemic – or any time after – and you were not afforded the right to a proper goodbye, whether due to negligence or other factors, you may be able to sue either the nursing home or funeral home for damages. While you may expect these facilities to abide by a strict code of conduct, it’s not uncommon for others to ignore their duty of care to the departed and their family.

You even end up with situations in which the body’s condition deteriorates to a level where viewing causes immediate physical and psychological distress. This is exactly what happened with a certain Brooklyn family. Following this case, attorney John Dalli stated that the New York laws should allow relations the right to respectfully bid their loved ones goodbye. He continued to say that they should have access to view the body and should pick it up as soon as it is in the funeral home’s custody. 

When such an instance happens, you have a right under the law to sue the funeral home. The Common Law Right of Sepulcher dictates that the departed’s next of kin can control many aspects of the final journey, including burial, cremation, and final resting place, among other dispositions. Your rights have been infringed upon if a nursing home or funeral home has gone against your wishes or mishandled your loved one. If this is the case, you may need an attorney to help you review the options available in your particular case. 

Come To Dalli & Marino, LLP If You Didn’t Get to Say Goodbye

If you or a loved one were not afforded the right to say goodbye, either during the pandemic or after, you may be able to receive compensation. At Dalli & Marino, LLP, we work hard to get justice for victims, and will work with you every step of the way during your legal journey.

We understand that these cases can be stressful, but we’re ready to provide the tools necessary to initiate and pursue civil action against funeral homes or nursing facilities. Call us at (888) 465-8790 or use our website contact form for a free case evaluation today. Our Spanish- and English-speaking attorneys are here for you and want to get you the compensation you deserve.


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