The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all of us in New York. As the daily tragedy of lost loved ones takes its toll on families, many grieving spouses and children are no doubt wondering if negligence might have played a role in their family member’s death.

While there is still a lot we do not know about COVID-19, we do know that nursing homes and retail stores are among the most likely places for the disease to spread. The management of many long-term care facilities and big-box stores are now complying with state and local guidelines for preventing transmission. But especially early on in the pandemic, many of these businesses were not taking reasonable steps to protect their residents, staff and customers.

Two of the first COVID-19 wrongful death lawsuits

Recently, two wrongful death lawsuits were filed related to COVID-19 deaths. One case occurred in the Seattle metro area, one of the first hotspots in the U.S. for the disease. In fact, the nursing home where her mother was living is thought to be the first epicenter of the outbreak in this country. It is owned by Life Care Centers of America Inc., one of the largest nursing home companies in the U.S.

The plaintiff’s mother died 24 hours after contracting COVID-19. A few days before, the facility says it learned for the first time that another resident had contracted the disease, but the plaintiff believes that administrators at the nursing home and Life Care Centers of America knew about it for longer than they admit. Her attorney notes that the outbreak at the facility occurred a month after COVID-19 first appeared in Washington state.

Meanwhile, the family of a longtime Walmart employee in suburban Chicago is suing the retail giant after the worker died of COVID-19 at age 51. That wrongful death suit says that management failed to inform the man that coworkers were showing symptoms or that “COVID-19 was present and active within the store.” This failure to warn the man led to his contracting the illness and passing away, the family contends.

Family members will pursue their legal rights

These lawsuits are almost certainly just the beginning. With more than 27,000 deaths from COVID-19 in New York State so far, thousands of families will be looking for answers about how their loved ones were exposed to this deadly illness.