Putting a loved one into a nursing home is difficult and overwhelming.
Decisions must be made and documents signed. Unfortunately, many nursing homes tuck into those documents a mandatory arbitration agreement, so that if there is neglect or malfeasance, the case would go to a hearing before an arbitrator rather than to court.
That requires the patient or family to pay not only for a lawyer but also for a share of the arbitrator‘s fee, which could be hundreds of dollars an hour.
Also, unlike court cases, arbitration hearings are conducted in private with results protected by confidentiality laws, meaning the public might never know about a nursing home‘s problems with neglect or abuse.
According to the New York Times, which investigated the practice, nursing homes “increasingly use forced arbitration clauses to shield themselves from being taken to court over alleged discrimination, elder abuse, fraud, hate crimes, medical malpractice and wrongful death.” In addition, studies show that arbitration awards tend to be substantially lower than jury verdicts.
The practice has become such a concern that the federal government has proposed a new rule forbidding nursing homes from requiring mandatory arbitration agreements. In the meantime, the best way to avoid being stuck in mandatory arbitration is to avoid signing any document requiring it.
Mandatory arbitration is not a condition of admission. Even if an arbitration agreement already has been signed, it might not be too late because many have 30-to-45-day opt-out provisions. That’s especially important these days when some nursing homes have low-paid and under-trained staff, which can lead to cases of negligence, abuse, and even wrongful death.
When legal help is needed, it’s best to turn to experts in the field, such as Stewart Bell, PLLC of Charleston, which has won millions of dollars in compensation for abused elderly residents and their families. The initial consultation is free, and Stewart Bell, PLLC gets paid only if the case is won. Getting ready to put someone in a nursing home? Call for a free document review. More information is available toll-free at 844-700-4900.