Often when an individual is injured or mistreated in a nursing home, they have already signed away their rights to bring a lawsuit. Instead, depending on the language of the contract they signed when entering the nursing home, they are required to arbitrate all claims brought against the nursing home. Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution, where an arbitrator—instead of a judge—decides the outcome of the dispute and how much money the nursing home must pay.
A recent federal bill would forbid nursing homes from forcing residents to agree in advance to arbitration in cases where lawsuits are brought against the nursing home for inadequate and a lack of care. The bill would also require a 24-hour nurse to be available at nursing homes, along with requiring an infection prevention and control specialist. Nursing homes receive most of their financing through Medicaid and Medicare, meaning they must follow state and federal regulations—including this bill if it were to be passed by Congress. While it is unclear now whether this bill will be passed, it would provide nursing home residents with a mechanism to bring a lawsuit if they are injured or mistreated while living at a nursing home.
Should Nursing Home Residents Sign Arbitration Agreements?
While arbitrating nursing home disputes may not seem terrible for either party, it often limits the settlements plaintiffs will receive, as compared to a jury. An arbitration clause, literally forces the resident to arbitrate instead of suing the home—regardless of the allegations. While arbitrators are often impartial and will ensure the plaintiff’s claims are adequately heard, bills like the one being discussed now give residents the opportunity to bring a lawsuit if they have been neglected or abused. This is better than forcing everyone to bring all claims in front of an arbitrator.
Additionally, many individuals do not know they are agreeing to arbitration when they sign a contract with a nursing home. The individual, often requiring people to care for them, are forced to sign these clauses in order to get service. Even if the parties agree they would prefer arbitration as compared to bringing a lawsuit in court, everyone should be aware they are agreeing to arbitration—and in many instances, this is not the case.
Because the difference between forced arbitration and being able to bring a lawsuit in a court may change a plaintiff’s monetary award significantly, individuals who are dealing with nursing home negligence should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Do You Have a Claim for Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
If you or someone you love is pursuing a lawsuit against a Maryland nursing home for negligence or abuse, contact the experienced attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen. Our knowledgeable attorneys can advise you on if there is a cause of action, along with whether you are required to arbitrate all disputes. Our firm is able to handle any trouble that comes your way; we also represent clients in auto accidents, slip and fall, and products liability cases. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and to speak with one of our attorneys, give us a call today at 800-654-1949 today.