Our Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys have come to understand the variety of tricks that many of the largest nursing home conglomerates use to avoid paying compensation after causing injury to residents. One of those strategies involves the use of arbitration agreements. These agreements are usually clauses found in contracts signed by nursing homes residents and their families when they seek to enter one of these facilities. These agreements are often hidden in the usually overwhelming stack of paperwork that must be signed upon entrance.
Many of those who advocate on behalf of nursing home neglect victims have raised awareness about the injustice of these agreements. What unsuspecting family members do not know is that these agreement may act as a sever limitation on their legal rights. Arbitration agreements seek to force victims of abuse into a separate legal process outside of the regular court system to decide issues of potential liability and punishment. These arbitration hearings are often costly and come without many of the usual rights and privileges found in regular legal proceedings.
Unfortunately, nursing homes are increasing using these misguided agreements. A new article published by the John Marshall Law School Journal explained this expanded use. New research found that the health care industry had historically been reluctant to use these pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements. However, nursing homes seem to be bucking that trend, as new data indicates that at least 43% of nursing homes now incorporate these required clauses into their admission contracts. All of the major nursing home chains use them and a growing number of smaller operators are adding them to their regular routines.
These agreements come in various forms. The research found that the largest chains usually use a form of the model arbitration agreement drafted by the American Health Care Association. These include a 30-day rescission and language stating that it is not a precondition to admission. However, very few residents and their families are made aware that the provision are not required. In normal practice these individuals are given the impression that they have no choice but to sign all that comes before them.
Other forms of arbitration agreements require the arbitration to be conducted at the actual nursing home if no other location is found-a particularly unfair provision. Some others include limits on damages, discovery, and punitive losses. In all its forms, however, the clear purpose of these agreements is to make it harder for victims of negligent nursing home care to receive compensation for their losses and to hold wrongdoers accountable for their conduct.
Pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses are something about which our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers have long fought. Far too many innocent victims have unknowingly been forced to give up fundamental rights. The prevalence of nursing home neglect and the need for clear incentives to press these home to make improvements makes it vital for these homes to be held accountable every time that their neglect causes harm. Arbitration agreements essentially immunize certain facilities from responsibility for their poor care. All community members are urged to be on the lookout for these agreements and avoid signing them at all costs.
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