When your loved one has decided on a nursing home, please beware of something you will surely encounter during the admissions process: a mandatory arbitration clause in the paperwork that strips away your loved one’s rights to a jury trial if he or she becomes injured and wants to pursue justice. This is not in the best interest of the consumer.
During the admissions process, you or your loved one will sign mounds of paperwork and it’s easy to overlook a mandatory arbitration clause. The admissions agreement will likely contain language where the resident agrees to waive his or her rights to a jury trial to resolve any disputes against the facility – including any civil actions as the result of any neglect or abuse –and instead submit them to binding arbitration.
It is a misconception that arbitration is faster and less expensive than a civil lawsuit. The reality is that any cost savings or time savings are offset by the lower damage awards that are usually awarded by arbitration panels. Arbitration clauses force nursing home residents out of court and into arbitration that’s heavily weighted in the company’s favor.
Even though most nursing homes will not require the resident to agree to binding arbitration, most residents simply sign the admissions agreement containing such language without thought of the consequences or without opting out of the arbitration provision (which almost all facilities will let the resident do).
Please be sure to review the paperwork signed by your loved one and discuss any arbitration provision with them immediately. It is best not to sign one of these.
The injuries and consequences that result from neglect in nursing homes can be devastating. If you or a loved one has experienced neglect, it is important to consult with an attorney experienced in nursing home abuse/neglect and who has the resources to vigorously pursue justice on your behalf.