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Beware! Consumers Feel Tricked into Minimizing Nursing Homes’ Accountability

By September 18, 2012Arbitration

Many nursing homes and other care facilities are inserting terms into their admission contracts that protect them from being held accountable in a court of law.  Buried in these multi-page documents are terms that consumers don’t see, gloss over, or fail to appreciate.  The facility’s representative does little, if any, to point out these terms or explain them.  What consumers don’t realize is that they are agreeing to waive their legal right to a jury.  An article posted today on NBCnews.com points out that “A mandatory arbitration agreement is an often overlooked document in the package of admissions papers at many nursing homes these days. It can have an outsize impact if something goes wrong. But anxious seniors or their caregivers often sign every document that’s put in front of them, perhaps only glancing at the content.”

One consumer interviewed for the articles explained, “I thought it was deceptive, and I was pretty angry that I’d been tricked into signing something that I didn’t know what it was.”  Patients and their family’s are unwittingly signing away fundamental rights, and unwittingly helping nursing homes to cover up their wrongdoing – these mandatory arbitrations are held in confidential private settings, rather than in a public courtroom.

Nursing homes want the mandatory arbitration terms in their contracts because the terms minimize the facilities’ accountability for their harm they cause.  The NBC article sites to a study that revealed that the outcome of the arbitration process was more favorable to the defending facilities. As the article points out: “Although consumers usually don’t realize it, there’s a simple way to avoid being forced into arbitration, say experts: Don’t sign the arbitration agreement. … If you do sign and then wish you hadn’t, arbitration agreements typically have a 30-day “opt-out” provision that allows you to change your mind and retain your rights to sue.”

If your loved one has been injured because the nursing home failed to do its job, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 for a no-cost consultation.