Maryland nursing home residents must consider whether their ability to sue a nursing home is limited by agreements that were signed at the time of their admission to the facility. This is because Maryland nursing home admission agreements often contain arbitration clauses, which may limit a party’s ability to bring a lawsuit in court.
Arbitration is a form of out-of-court resolution where an arbitrator, rather than a judge or jury, makes a final decision in the case. Many nursing homes routinely include arbitration agreements within their admission paperwork, as a way to avoid lengthy and costly litigation. In arbitration, the procedural rules are relaxed, and an arbitration decision is generally final, and cannot be appealed. Because of these factors, arbitration favors more sophisticated parties who frequently find themselves in court.
Resident Unable to Sue After Alleged Rape in Nursing Home
According to a recent news article, an 87-year-old nun said she was raped at night at her nursing home. She claimed that someone entered her room at night, pinned her down on the bed, and raped her.
Evidently, police found two semen stains on the nun’s bed, as well as blood on her pajama bottoms. A sexual assault examiner at a hospital found multiple abrasions inside and outside her vaginal canal. The nun was too scared to call anyone at the time, “because she was afraid that the assailant would be the one to come back to her room.” Police failed to identify the alleged attacker.
When the woman’s family members attempted to sue the nursing home, they were unable to do so because the woman had signed an admissions contract that contained an arbitration agreement. By signing it, she gave up the right to trial by jury and to bring a civil lawsuit against the nursing home.
The Seventh Amendment provides the right to a trial by jury. However, that right can be waived by agreement. Opponents of arbitration note that arbitrators are hired on a per-case basis. Thus, arbitrators are incentivized to make repeat clients happy, which may create a conflict of interest. However, some estimate that 90% of large nursing-home chains have arbitration agreements in their admission contracts.
In the nun’s case, her family went through with the arbitration process, but the arbitrator decided that the nursing home could not be held responsible. The arbitrator did not find enough evidence that the nun had been raped, and said that in the nun’s testimony to police after the assault, he did not hear the emotion “that [he] would expect to hear” in describing a sexual assault. The family’s lawyer said that the arbitrator allowed hearsay that would not have been admitted in court.
Contact a Nursing Home Attorney
If your loved has suffered at a Maryland nursing home, you may be able to seek compensation, either in arbitration or in court. The personal injury attorneys Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have the tenacity and resources to pursue claims against all of the parties responsible for causing you or your loved one’s injuries. We understand the struggles that clients face, and we try to reduce the stress placed on them as much as possible so that they can get their lives back on track. If you believe a loved one may be suffering from abuse or neglect in a Maryland nursing home, call us for a free, no-obligation consultation at 410-654-3600.
More Blog Posts:
Federal Agency Takes Steps to Counter Low Nursing Home Staffing Levels in Maryland and Nationwide, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published December 14, 2018.
Veterans Reportedly “Routinely Receiving Substandard Care” in VA Nursing Home, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published November 29, 2018.