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Federal Rules Aim to Make Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits Easier

December 24, 2015 | Category: Nursing Home Neglect/Abuse | Share

Arbitration clauses have become routine in nursing home admissions paperwork. Often, people enter nursing homes under stressful circumstances. The individual who enters the home or his or her family members may not take the time to read every word of every piece of paper they sign.

As a result, the nursing home resident or his loved ones could end up signing away important legal rights, including the right to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit.  Ft Myers personal injury attorneys like Randall Spivey help victims of nursing home abuse and neglect to use the legal system to seek compensation; but without the ability to sue, the rights of a victim of abuse are significantly curtailed. 

Fortunately, the federal government is considering steps to rectify problems with nursing home arbitration clauses. While many believe government proposals to address arbitration clauses are not enough, at least a federal law would be a step in the right direction towards protecting the most vulnerable.

New Legislation Could Help Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Victims

Proposed federal legislation aims to make sure that people do not sign arbitration agreements upon entry into a nursing home without actually understanding what they are signing.  If the legislation becomes law, nursing homes would be required to explain arbitration agreements so residents and their families actually make a conscious choice about whether to sign. The law would also make sure that there is actually a choice because it would prohibit nursing homes from making the signing of an arbitration agreement a condition of admission.

Arbitration agreements can infringe upon the rights of patients not only because they prevent court action, but because some agreements create a system whereby victims lose a portion of their recovered funds. NPR, for example, reported on one case in which a family member of a neglect victim was forced to split a $60,750 arbitration bill with the nursing home after winning her claim. 

By the time the arbitration costs and other expenses were paid, the woman ended up with less than $20,000 in compensation from the nursing home facility that caused her husband to lose 20 pounds, go into a coma and pass away.  The woman in this case had not realized what she was agreeing to when she signed paperwork containing an arbitration clause when she checked her husband into the home.

Requiring nursing homes to provide an explanation of arbitration clauses is a positive step towards preventing people from giving up their rights without knowing they are doing so; however, more than 50 consumer organizations, along with 34 U.S. Senators and 15 attorneys general from throughout the country, believe that the federal government should go further and ban the inclusion of arbitration agreements in nursing home admission paperwork. 

While arbitration agreements curtail the options available to victims and their families, victims still can move forward with claims.  However, a civil lawsuit is often a far better option. We believe that everything possible should be done to ensure that the victims of nursing home abuse or neglect have their day in court. The Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. is prepared to be right there with the victims, fighting for full and fair compensation.

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