When you or one of your parents needs the services of a nursing home or long-term care facility, there are a lot of things on your mind. You worry if the home is the right place for your mom or dad. You want to be certain they receive the care they need in a positive and pleasant environment.
And you most certainly do not want them to be neglected or suffer abuse at the hands of the facility or its staff. But one thing you probably are not thinking about is the prospect of suing the facility for abuse or negligence.
Because of that, you may not fully understand the significant of an arbitration agreement and how it could affect your rights to sue. Arbitration is a contractually-agreed-to alternative dispute resolution process.
What that means is that you are no longer able to bring a lawsuit involving injuries or wrongful death in court, but instead have to attend a private arbitration, where an arbitrator makes the decision instead of a judge or jury.
Arbitration agreements are popular for businesses, as much of the disputes involve contracts and financial disputes. Because arbitration uses different rules, it can be cheaper and faster than litigation in court.
However, arbitration agreements between sophisticated businesses and ordinary individuals are often unfair and create substantial inequities for the individual.
Also, arbitration agreements used in nursing home contracts may also limit the damages available and rule out punitive damages altogether. This potentially allows a nursing home to act with reckless disregard of the health of its residents and know that no matter how negligent, their damages are safely limited.
Lawyersandsettlements.com, “Courts Continue to Quash Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements,” Gordon Gibb, October 14, 2014