Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements: What You Should Know
Placing a loved one in a nursing home might be among the most difficult decisions any of us might ever have to make. Unfortunately, residents of nursing homes suffer injuries, abuse or even neglect at these facilities due to a wide range of issues from negligent hiring to understaffing. When these incidents of nursing home abuse or neglect do occur, victims or their families may find that their ability to hold a nursing home accountable could be severely restricted by a document they have signed: an arbitration agreement.
What is an Arbitration Agreement?
When the California legislature passed the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, the nursing home industry has engaged in an effort to evade liability for injuries by pushing arbitration agreements on residents. These agreements are presented to residents or families when they come into the facility. The arbitration agreement is included within the package of documents families or individuals sign at the time of admission. But what happens when you sign an arbitration agreement is that you are giving up all legal rights in the event of a future dispute.
The Problem with Arbitration
When you entrust the care of a loved one to a nursing home, you don’t walk in expecting something to go wrong. However, not all nursing homes provide the necessary quality of care. So when patients become victims of negligence, wrongdoing or abuse, they must have the opportunity to pursue justice. Arbitration agreements deny patients and their families that fundamental right. It is often an even greater injustice because many residents and families are pressured to sign these agreements at the time of admission.
What happens if your loved one suffers abuse or neglect and you want to do something about it? It is likely that you will enter a “kangaroo court” in which the outcome is rigged against you and where the nursing home has the upper hand. Not only does the nursing home choose the arbitrator, but you have no right to appeal the decision of the arbitrator. Above all, the proceedings are kept secret so the facts will not become public. In fact, victims are placed under a gag order banning them from raising issues with outsiders including state inspectors.
Know Your Rights
Do not feel pressured to sign these unjust arbitration agreements. You can absolutely refuse to sign it. Know your rights. The nursing home cannot deny you admission under the law because arbitration agreements cannot be a condition of admission. If your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home contact an experienced California nursing home abuse lawyer who will fight to protect your rights and hold the facility accountable.