Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements Violate Victims’ Rights
Hidden in the fine print of many nursing home contracts is a binding arbitration clause that has serious implications for unsuspecting nursing home residents and their families. In simple terms, an arbitration clause waves a resident’s 7th Amendment right to a jury trial, and many nursing home and long-term care center agreements that include an arbitration clause are mandatory for admission.
Imagine your loved one suffers a broken bone from a fall. You consult with an experienced nursing home attorney who launches an investigation and discovers the fall was avoidable and due to a negligent nursing home staff. Now, imagine you’re informed you can’t file a nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit because hidden in the contract you signed during admissions is an arbitration clause. Unfortunately, at this point your hands are tied, and your only option is to try to privately resolve the issue with an arbitrator hired by the nursing home you have the problem with.
This type of scenario happens every day and it’s a violation of the nursing home resident’s rights to a jury trial and the Georgia Bill of Rights that requires long-term care facilities provide reasonable care and respect residents’ dignity.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is an alternative way to resolve disputes that arise. Rather than taking a nursing home facility to court for a case to be presented in front of a jury, a third-party arbitrator is used, and you present the argument to them. They hear the case and can issue a binding decision.
Many consumer and advocacy groups such as AARP oppose mandatory arbitration clauses, but about 90 percent of nursing homes that accept federal money due to Medicare or Medicaid require residents to sign such as clause as part of the admissions process.
Arbitration clauses can have a dangerous and harmful impact on nursing home residents because it overrides state laws that protect long-term care residents from unfair hearings.
Why is an Arbitration Clause Unfair?
Nursing homes claim arbitration saves money and time for residents, but this isn’t true. If a resident or their family files a complaint, they often end up paying fees for a lawyer and the arbitration. Other unfair issues include:
- Nursing homes and other facilities are often allowed to choose the arbitrator
- If a nursing home doesn’t fear a lawsuit, there’s no motivation to follow federal or state laws
- Appealing an arbitrator’s decision is limited
- Arbitrators aren’t required to provide written decisions
- Arbitration agreements are often a mandatory part of the admissions process
- Nursing homes don’t adequately explain what the arbitration clause means, and most people don’t understand what rights they are giving up by signing it
- You waive your 7th Amendment right to a jury trial for civil cases in all courts
- Unlike a trial, the rules of evidence are much more relaxed during arbitration and evidence such as hearsay, which may not be allowed in court, can be presented during arbitration
- Arbitration is often confidential, which limits transparency
If residents and families do not have the ability to hold a nursing home accountable in court, nursing homes are free to prioritize profits over the quality of their residents’ care.
A History of Results
We have an established track record of bringing our clients results they expect and deserve. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients and won one of the largest nursing home arbitration awards in the State of Georgia.
Should I Contact a Lawyer?
If you or your loved one has experienced abuse or neglect at a nursing home, it’s important you take the proper steps to hold the facility responsible. You should not hesitate to report the abuse to the state. This can be done by filing a complaint with the Georgia Department of Community Health – Healthcare Facility Regulation. You can file the complaint by calling 1-800-878-6442 or you may file the complaint online.
Our nursing home abuse attorneys represent victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. When a nursing home’s negligent care leads to a resident’s serious injury or death, we hold the nursing home accountable. If you discover an arbitration clause within the contract, our experienced lawyers can advise you about your rights and prepare your case for arbitration.
We offer free consultations and there is no fee unless we win your case. We have offices in Athens, Lake Oconee, and Atlanta and handle nursing home abuse cases throughout the state of Georgia. Contact us today at 706-354-4000 or fill out the case review form at the bottom of the page.