Many nursing home admission contracts contain arbitration clauses whereby the resident gives up (usually unwittingly) the right to have legal disputes resolved in court. In many situations, it is not the resident himself or herself who signs the nursing home’s admissions papers, including any binding arbitration agreement contained therein. Rather, it is frequently a family member or other related person who is assisting their loved one with the admission process.
An article published last week in the Spokesman-Review reports that “The use of binding-arbitration agreements is increasing as long-term-care facilities try to hold down their liability expenses, which are steadily rising. Critics of the agreements say that many people enter them unknowingly or thoughtlessly, and are signing away their rights to a jury trial or appeal.”
The article cites analysis by Aon Global Risk Consulting, which studied nearly 1,500 claims involving long-term care providers between 2003 and 2011. The study revealed that “30 percent of claims with a valid arbitration agreement resulted in no money being awarded. In claims without an arbitration agreement, that figure was 19 percent. Claims settled without arbitration agreements also were typically much smaller.”
The article highlights one binding arbitration case in which the arbitration “shed exactly no light on what really happened to” the injured resident: “The arbitrator’s ruling only deepened the mystery” of what happened to the nursing home resident.
While arbitration that is voluntarily agreed to after the claim arises can be the right choice in some cases, agreeing in advance — before the injury ever occurs — rarely benefits anyone other than the nursing home. Courts evaluating the validity of pre-injury, binding nursing home arbitration agreements consider many factors, including the signatory’s mental competence and the signatory’s legal authority to enter into the agreement.
The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. We are committed to uncovering the truth. Nursing homes want binding arbitration agreements because they help nursing home’s hide the truth. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action today and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.