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Nursing Homes and Forced Arbitration Clauses: What You Need to Know (Part II)

Nursing homes throughout the country have attempted to limit their legal liability by requiring new residents to sign contracts upon admission. Buried deep within the text of these contracts are forced arbitration clauses and are designed to severely limit the ability of the new resident or his or her family to recover compensation if the resident becomes injured or dies as the result of the nursing home’s carelessness. Despite the prevalence of forced arbitration clauses in many nursing home admissions contracts and paperwork, there are efforts underway to render these unfair clauses ineffective or too costly for the nursing home.

Taking On Forced Arbitration Clauses is Paving the Way for Residents

Some injured residents and the family members of deceased residents have challenged the enforceability of these forced arbitration clauses in court with mixed success. Some nursing home abuse plaintiffs, for example, have unsuccessfully argued that these clauses are confusing, complicated, and cannot be understood by an elderly resident or his or her guardian who is signing admissions paperwork during an especially emotional and stressful time. Others have used similar arguments and found sympathetic courts who have ruled their forced arbitration clauses to be unenforceable and without effect. Still other nursing home abuse plaintiffs have argued that a clause that is not signed by a resident’s power of attorney or guardian is ineffectual and cannot be enforced.

While in the past many courts tended to side with the nursing home in upholding these clauses, the modern trend of cases seems to suggest there is a change in the air as courts are taking the circumstances surrounding the signing of the clause into consideration when deciding whether a particular clause is enforceable.

Federal Funding May Hold the Key to Stopping Abuses Through Forced Arbitration

One other proposed method of curbing the use of forced arbitration clauses by nursing homes that is gaining traction is eliminating federal funding for those nursing homes that continue to use these clauses as part of their admissions contracts. This method is regularly employed when the federal government wishes to have all 50 states adopt a similar policy: all states, for example, criminalize drivers who drive with an alcohol concentration of over .08 because the federal government has made important federal highway funding for a particular state contingent on that particular state’s adoption of the .08 limit. In a similar way, because many nursing homes rely on federal funding in order to continue to operate, it is thought that nursing homes will abandon the use of forced arbitration clauses upon learning that continued use of these clauses would result in the withdrawal of their federal funding.

If you or a loved one has been abused or neglected by a nursing home in Washington, D.C., or suffered injury from a staff member or other resident of a nursing home, contact the experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Bertram & Amell right away. A thorough investigation into your case is necessary in order to determine whether you or your loved one signed a forced arbitration agreement and whether this can be avoided so that you can pursue a claim for compensation. Contact us today at (888) 991-5245 or contact us through our website today for assistance.

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