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Dubious Practices –Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements

When an individual seeks to become a resident of a nursing home or long-term care facility, there is often an overwhelming amount of admission paperwork to sign. And hidden among the many admission documents, it is not uncommon to find an “arbitration agreement.”

 “Arbitration” is a form of alternate dispute resolution in which a legal issue is settled outside of court. One or more “arbitrators” then decide the outcome, rather than a jury. In these cases, you or your loved one must agree to arbitration even before a dispute arises. 
 
There is an increasing number of nursing homes and long-term care facilities that are asking residents or their families to sign these pre-dispute arbitration agreements at the time of admission. Once signed, these agreements prevent the resident and their family from seeking legal action within the courts should they experience harm or injury while in the facility.
 
Many nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys, like Hupy and Abraham, urge those seeking a nursing home or long-term care facility to be careful when signing admission documents, and to never sign an arbitration agreement.


Forced predispute arbitration agreements:

  1. Take advantage of residents during the admissions process: Nursing home admissions can be unplanned or often happens when there is pressure to enter a facility right away.  Arbitration agreements are then often buried among a stack of documents and may go unnoticed by residents or their representatives. These individuals are often pressured into signing arbitration agreements, without necessarily knowing what disputes will ever occur or what arbitration even entails. Under such circumstances, an informed decision is not likely.
     
  2. Deny residents the benefits and advantages of a court of law and trial by jury:  Arbitration can be very costly and more expensive than going to court. Residents and families usually require a lawyer, but with arbitration also have the arbitrator's fee to pay as well. What’s worse is that arbitrators are private individuals, rather than publicly elected or appointed officials like judges (who you don’t pay) and have your best interest in mind. Once a decision is made in arbitration, it typically cannot be appealed in the court system.
     
  3. Put residents at risk: Arbitration agreements take away the ability of injured residents and their families to hold the facility accountable in a court of law. With little or no oversight, facilities then have no incentive to prevent incidents of abuse and neglect from being repeated.  When residents cannot hold facilities accountable for poor treatment, neglect and abuse through a public and unbiased legal process, the well-being of all residents suffers.

Taking away anyone’s right to have a dispute settled in a court of law is a dubious practice that often allows the signer of the agreement to be taken advantage of. Therefore, the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Hupy and Abraham suggest that you never sign an arbitration clause or agreement. To help protect our elders and promote the quality of care in nursing homes that is required by law, you can take action by urging Congress to reintroduce the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act or to ban pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements.

If you have any questions, or want more information about arbitration agreements, please feel free to contact us. You can start a live chat with us now at Hupy.com, or call us at 800-800-5678. If  you or a loved one have suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of a nursing home or long-term care facility, please call the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Hupy and Abraham right away, for a free, no-obligations consultation.