An increasing number of nursing homes and care facilities are slipping arbitration agreements as part of the overall paperwork. These are usually signed by unassuming family members while checking in their loved ones at a residential facility. Many people are pressured into signing these “voluntary” agreements without knowing the full effects.
You must beware of these arbitration agreements and speak with a qualified nursing home abuse attorney if you need help.
Overview of Elder Care Facility Arbitration Agreements
Arbitration agreements are documents drafted by the nursing home’s attorneys. These agreements generally contain language that favors them instead of looking out for the best interests of the resident. You are essentially signing away your constitutional right to bring a nursing home abuse claim and being heard in court in the presence of a jury of your peers and a judge.
Instead, the agreement compels you to bring the dispute first to an arbitrator. This is a private independent person that helps in settling disputes. The nursing home may encourage you to sign the arbitration agreement calling it faster, cheaper, and more efficient than bringing a potential lawsuit (if the need ever arises.) This is not an entirely true statement as any informed elder home abuse attorney will let you know.
Arbitrations Are Usually More Expensive
Judges are paid by the government whereas arbitrators need to be paid by the nursing home and you. The arbitration alone may end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars. While the law allows plaintiffs to be reimbursed for their arbitration costs, the arbitrator may not decide in your favor.
Private arbitration cannot be afforded by everyone. The nursing home’s share of the arbitration costs is usually covered by the insurance company. No one who has suffered abuse and neglect while residing in the nursing home should be forced to pay such high costs.
Arbitration Takes a Long Time
Specific circumstances can allow certain nursing home claims to be expedited in a court of law. The court may accelerate the process if a nursing home resident is unwell, very elderly, or dying. This is to provide a quicker resolution. However, you may not be entitled to an accelerated hearing if you consent to arbitration. Further, nursing home care facilities have been known to drag the process until the elder is no more.
Arbitration is Not Always Unprejudiced
The outcome of trials is decided by a judge and a jury of peers. The important distinction is that the judge and members of the jury are picked at random. This is not the case where elder abuse and neglect claims are concerned. The nursing home facility may claim the arbitrators to be “neutral” – but this is not always the reality.
Arbitrators notice that nursing home care facilities bring multiple claims while victims may only ever bring one claim. Repeat business from elder homes and their insurance companies can be a high motivator.
Legal Help is Here from Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Some laws make it illegal for nursing home care facilities to require residents to sign an arbitration agreement to either gain admittance or continue residing in a facility. The compassionate attorneys at Walton Law, A.P.C., who have been through the legal battlefields before, will relentlessly pursue justice and compensation from the insurance company of the nursing home if there has been negligent or intentional abuse.
Our attorneys have experience in holding nursing home facilities accountable even where there has been forced arbitration. To schedule your free consultation, call us at (866) 338-7079 or fill out this online contact form.