Nursing Home Abuse Claims: How Arbitration Clauses Can Affect a Victim's Rights

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April 25, 2018 - Nursing Home Abuse

When you or a loved one moves into a nursing care facility, there is a lot of admissions paperwork to sign. Often, the move is a stressful time and, in many cases, seniors move into care facilities after a health crisis. This can make it difficult to review the nursing home paperwork carefully to make sure you fully understand everything you're agreeing to when you sign.

Unfortunately, a growing number of nursing homes are including a clause in their contracts that prohibit seniors or their families from filing lawsuits when abuse or neglect occurs. Instead of being able to sue, victims of abuse are being forced to resolve their claims through the arbitration process. Unfortunately, being forced to arbitrate abuse cases may mean you receive less compensation and may even mean that you become responsible for paying fees for arbitration.

It's important to review contracts carefully to determine if you're being asked to give up your rights. If you have become the victim of abuse, you should contact The Villages nursing home abuse lawyers so you can determine what your rights are and get help pursuing a claim that is most likely to result in receiving fair compensation for damages.

Arbitration Clauses Impact the Rights of Abuse Victims

Because arbitration tends to be a less effective remedy for victims than pursuing a claim in court, the Obama administration moved forward with limiting the inclusion of arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts.  However, as the AARP indicates, the Trump administration is once again planning to open the door to the inclusion of binding arbitration contracts.

Unfortunately, this can be detrimental to victim's rights. The Washington Post reviewed research that compared the results of arbitration versus court proceedings and found victims were much less likely to obtain substantial compensation when claims were resolved in arbitration instead of in court.

A total of 1,449 claims were reviewed by the researchers who discovered that no money was awarded in 30 percent of cases  against long-term care providers where an arbitration agreement was in place. By comparison, when there was no arbitration agreement or the agreement was not enforced, the alleged victims received compensation in all but 19 percent of claims.

Even when compensation was paid, it was likely to be low. Just 8.5 percent of claims resolved in arbitration resulted in awards of $250,000 or more, compared with 12 percent of claims in which there was no arbitration agreement.

Arbitration tends to favor nursing homes because nursing homes are the repeat customer who will arbitrate again and again, whereas abuse victims only typically bring one claim during the course of their lifetimes. When cases are resolved through mandatory arbitration, results can also be kept private so the public does not become aware of patterns of abuse.

If you or someone you love is moving to a nursing home, you should review the contract carefully to determine if it contains an arbitration clause. If abuse has already occurred in a nursing home, you should contact The Villages nursing home abuse lawyers for help understanding your rights.

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