Nursing home abuse and neglect is, unfortunately, a rampant problem in Maryland and across the nation. While Maryland state law, recognizing this problem, allows individuals whose loved ones are injured by instances of nursing home abuse and neglect to file a civil negligence lawsuit against the negligent staff or home, many Maryland families may be unwittingly signing away this right. This is because nursing homes may often ask residents or their families to sign an arbitration agreement when the resident moves in. But Maryland residents should always read the fine print of these agreements very carefully and, generally, should avoid signing these arbitration agreements.
Arbitration agreements are essentially contracts stating that if any dispute comes up between the individual and the nursing home, it must be settled through arbitration rather than through a civil negligence lawsuit. Basically, nursing home residents who sign these can be barred from pursuing their case in court. And in most cases, arbitration is not an adequate substitute for having a case heard in court. Arbitration processes do not include a jury, may cap damages to way below what is available in court, and may limit a family’s ability to access or provide evidence of the abuse and neglect their loved one faced. Arbitration is also binding, with very little opportunity to appeal.
How Does Nursing Home Arbitration Work?
Importantly, the arbitrator (the decision maker in the process) is usually chosen by the nursing home, giving them an incentive to decide in favor of the nursing home. Nursing homes tend to like arbitration agreements for all of these reasons, as well as the fact that arbitration processes are covered by strict confidentiality rules, meaning that the nursing home’s abuse and neglect will stay hidden from the public. In contrast, filing a lawsuit against a nursing home provides plaintiffs with all the rights given to them by law, which may include the availability of larger monetary damages, a jury trial, access to more evidence regarding the abuse and neglect, and an impartial decision maker.
In short, arbitration agreements make the process of holding a negligent nursing home accountable for the harm they have caused more difficult, and may even prevent true justice from taking place. So Maryland residents who decide to place their loved one into a nursing home facility should take care to read the fine print on the agreements to not sign away their right to sue in court. However, not all nursing home arbitration contracts are valid, and those who already signed an arbitration agreement may be able to get out of it by working with a dedicated Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer.
Do You Need a Maryland Nursing Home Attorney?
Finding an experienced, dedicated, and compassionate attorney to handle your family’s nursing home abuse and neglect case can be difficult, especially during the virtual environment caused by the ongoing public health crisis. That’s why Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Attorneys, are offering free, virtual consultations to those who are thinking about filing suit against a negligent nursing home. Our Maryland nursing home abuse law firm is full of attorneys dedicated to recovering monetary compensation for our clients, and who will work hard on your case and protect your legal rights. To learn more, call us today at 800-654-1949. Or, fill out our online form.