When a loved one enters a nursing home or assisted living facility, the family is often presented with a lot of paperwork to sign. Going through the process can feel rhythmic, signing on the dotted line page after page. You may start reading the paperwork and give it up, or perhaps you decide to read it later. However, when faced with dozens of pages to sign, very few opt to sit and read everything before signing. This is where many families are finding themselves in trouble later.
More and more nursing homes and assisted living facilities are adding arbitration agreements within that stack of paperwork. What does this mean for you? It means that in the event of a problem that is not amicably resolved – say your loved one wanders off the premises or gets hit by a car or your loved one is being abused or not taken care of properly – you agree to dispute before a professional arbitrator rather than file a lawsuit for negligence or wrongful death.
Unfortunately, these agreements are not in a family or resident’s best interests. First, it can be pricey. In addition to hiring a personal injury lawyer, the patient or family typically has to pay its share of the arbitrator’s fees (this can be hundreds of dollars an hour). In a court environment, families and patients don’t have to pay the judge because our taxes pay for that.
Second, taking a nursing home or assisted living facility to court leaves a detailed public record of the allegations. This holds the companies and people running the home accountable for their actions and makes it known publicly. It can also inform industry practice and help develop case law. With arbitration, these hearings are conducted privately and are usually protected by confidentiality rules.
So what can you do to avoid being forced into arbitration? Don’t sign the arbitration agreement. The American Health Care Association doesn’t support requiring individuals or families to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of admission, although practices can vary by nursing home. If you did sign it and wish you hadn’t, arbitration agreements usually have a 30-day opt-out provision that allows you to change your mind and retain your right to sue. This is especially important for those who newly entered a home and experienced abuse.
If your loved one was abused or neglected while in the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact the experienced Arizona elder abuse attorneys at Knapp & Roberts at 480-991-7677 today. Even if you signed an arbitration agreement, call us and tell us your story. We can help.
The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.