Historically, Maryland nursing homes have been able to avoid costly lawsuits brought by residents or their family members by including arbitration clauses in the pre-admission paperwork that is presented to residents prior to their admission. By signing an arbitration clause, a nursing home resident gives up their right to a trial by jury, and agrees to resolve any dispute that may arise between the parties through binding arbitration.
While in theory arbitration may not sound like a bad thing for nursing home residents, by agreeing to arbitration, nursing home residents give up important rights and get little to nothing in return. That being the case, it is not surprising that long-term historical data shows that nursing homes fare better in arbitration than they do in traditional courts.
For the past few years, nursing home arbitration contracts have been the subject of much debate. During the Obama Administration, nursing home arbitration contracts were disfavored, and those nursing homes that included these clauses in their pre-admission paperwork were ineligible for federal funding. However, more recently that policy has been stepped back, and nursing homes have seized the opportunity, and have started to rely on arbitration clauses once again.
According to a recent news report, however, Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate have written a bill that would eliminate forced arbitration in nursing homes. The Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act would eliminate forced arbitration in all employment, consumer, and civil rights cases, but would allow for the parties to voluntarily enter into arbitration after a dispute had occurred.
The proponent of the bill explained that the nature of forced arbitration results in individuals being forced to make important decisions that can have a lasting impact on their financial future at a very difficult time. For example, families placing a loved one in a nursing home may not have time to thoroughly consider the decision given the realities of their loved one’s medical condition and the lack of other available options. The lawmaker explained that “forced arbitration agreements undermine our indelible constitutional right to trial by jury, benefiting powerful businesses at the expense of American consumers and workers.”
Has Your Loved One Suffered in a Maryland Nursing Home?
If you have a loved one in a Maryland nursing home, and believe that they have not received the treatment that they need and deserve, contact the dedicated Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we represent nursing home residents and their families in claims arising in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. We have a dedicated team of Maryland nursing home attorneys who work closely with our clients and their families to ensure that we have all the necessary information to succeed on behalf of our clients. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements Must Be Clear to Be Enforceable, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published February 8, 2019.
Many Maryland Nursing Home Residents Have Difficulty Reporting Abuse, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published February 21, 2019.