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Proposed Federal Regulations Governing Arbitration Could Make it Easier for You to Sue for Nursing Home Abuse

neglected nursing home patient in wheelchairWhen you placed your family member in a nursing home, you signed a stack of legal documents, including a contract. Like many nursing home contracts, yours may provide that all legal disputes must be handled through binding arbitration rather than filing a lawsuit. Unfortunately, that may not be fair to your loved one if you need to pursue a nursing home abuse or neglect claim for him. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recognizes this problem and has proposed new federal regulations being considered by Congress to give nursing home residents more rights.

How the Proposed Regulation Could Help Your Family Member

Often nursing home staff fails to properly explain mandatory arbitration clauses in their contracts, and people agreeing to this do not fully understand the legal rights they are giving up. However, pursuing a nursing home neglect and abuse claim through arbitration may be bad for residents for the following reasons:

  • Costs. Arbitration can be more costly than civil litigation. The arbitrators deciding the dispute must be paid for their time by the resident and nursing home splitting the cost. In one case reported by National Public Radio, the cost of arbitration in a wrongful death case was $60,750.
  • Day in court. Arbitration decisions are binding. An injured victim loses his right to have his case tried by a jury in a civil lawsuit and his right to appeal the arbitration decision—even if it is blatantly wrong.
  • Secret settlement. In arbitration, many settlements are confidential, and there are specific clauses in the written agreement prohibiting disclosure of the terms. If a person files a lawsuit, the legal pleadings filed in court are public records that can be viewed by anyone checking into the nursing home’s practices.

The proposed regulation would correct some of the problems with current nursing home contracts. It would require the following:

  • Nursing home staff must explain the arbitration clause to the patient before he agrees to it.
  • Arbitration agreements can only be entered into voluntarily.
  • Arbitrators must be neutral.
  • Nursing homes are prohibited from making admission contingent upon signing a contract containing an arbitration clause.

Even if your family member’s nursing home contract provides for arbitration, you need to help your loved one pursue a claim for compensation if his injuries were caused by nursing home abuse or neglect. Fill out our online form today to schedule a free consultation.