For decades, arbitration has been the favored way for Maryland nursing homes to resolves dispute made by residents and residents’ families. In part, this is because arbitration is confidential, meaning that the facility does not need to worry about the news of a resident’s injuries or suffering getting out. However, there is also evidence suggesting that nursing homes get better results in cases that go to arbitration. Arbitration is also less expensive, which primarily benefits nursing homes, as they are the party who is frequently engaged in litigation.
While arbitration is rarely, if ever, in the best interest of a nursing home resident, many residents end up signing agreements to arbitrate their claim. Often, prospective residents are presented with these agreements in highly stressful times when they may feel as though they have limited options. Other times, residents sign arbitration agreements because they do not fully understand the rights they are giving up by signing, and feel pressured to sign. Consequently, many residents who suffer abuse or neglect at the hands of their caregivers are devastated to learn that they cannot file a lawsuit in court, and must proceed through the arbitration process.
In 2017, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, under the Obama administration, implemented a ban on arbitration agreements in pre-admission paperwork for all nursing homes that accepted Medicare or Medicaid. However, under a new rule scheduled to go into effect on September 16, 2019, nursing homes will once again be able to include arbitration contracts in their pre-admission paperwork.
Under the new rule, Maryland nursing homes can insert arbitration agreements or clauses into pre-admission paperwork, but cannot make admission to the facility contingent on a prospective resident signing the document. Additionally, the new rule will give residents up to 30 days from the signing of a contract to rescind their agreement to engage in arbitration.
While some claim that the new rule represents a compromise, advocates for the aging are concerned that it will do little to help prospective residents understand the importance of their decision to sign pre-admission paperwork. One commentator pointed out that “the circumstances surrounding the admissions process combined with the enormous disparity of bargaining power means that most prospective residents are unaware of the content of what they are signing or the significance of the decision to enter into a pre-dispute arbitration agreement.”
Is Your Loved One at Risk?
If you have a loved one in a Maryland nursing home, and you believe that their safety and well being are not being made a top priority, contact Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we help nursing home residents and their families obtain compensation for the wrongs committed by negligent and abusive nursing home staff members and management. If you signed an agreement to arbitrate any claims, do not get frustrated. Our Maryland personal injury attorneys are skilled litigators who are experienced in disputing the validity of arbitration agreements. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today.