Federal Regulations May Make Suing Nursing Homes Easier
Whether you know it or not, when you or your loved one was accepted into a long-term care facility, you probably signed away your right to sue the facility in a court of law. Surprised? Most people are very surprised to learn that, when a dispute arises between residents and nursing homes, residents are forced to bring their case against the nursing home through arbitration.
Binding Arbitration Agreements in Nursing Home Care
Binding arbitration agreements are nothing new. Again, whether you know it or not, you almost definitely signed one when you opened an investment account at a registered brokerage firm in this country. Same goes for nursing homes. There are some very good reasons why both nursing homes and brokerage firms demand that clients sign arbitration agreements upon entering a contract with each other… For one thing, an arbitration agreement is to the advantage of the institutions who won’t serve or take care of you without them. What they know is that going to court, and having you plead your case before a jury of your peers, is generally a more favorable venue to you. What’s more, the arbitration process is typically operated by an agency or authority which is composed largely of industry veterans who are conditioned to be biased toward their own industry - not toward nursing home residents or investor clients. Thanks to recent stirring within the federal government, however, this dynamic within the long-term care industry might change soon enough.
Federal Government Considers Dispute Resolution Reform
According to the Federal Register’s announcement concerning reforms which would affect all long-term care facilities accepting Medicare and Medicaid, these facilities may be required to explain in detail what the arbitration agreements mean to residents and family members. Even more importantly, they would also not be permitted to make signing an arbitration agreement a requirement for admittance to the facility. Abolishing such a requirement will leave open the possibility for residents to bring their claims against nursing homes in judicial court rather than industry-run and funded arbitration.