We have occasionally mentioned one way in which large nursing home chains seek to handcuff the rights of Illinois nursing home abuse victims: arbitration clauses. Many nursing home residents and their loved ones are forced to sign detailed contracts when they seek admittance to a facility. Often hidden within that contract is a clause that requires parties to go to an arbitrator as an alternative to a regular courtroom to settle disputes.
Most consumers sign these documents without much thought, but the clauses often have debilitating effects on the legal rights of victimized nursing home residents. When a nursing home commits egregious errors that harm residents, the victims usually have a right to sue in court to seek compensation for their losses. But with an arbitration clause the victim cannot go to regular court but must instead seek arbitration. Arbitration is an often costly, lengthy, and unfair process that leaves victims without adequate redress for their injuries.
Recently several United States Senators have introduced a bill which would seek to prevent various big interests, such as nursing home conglomerates, from having virtual immunity from certain kinds of abuse through the use of forced arbitration clauses. The legislation led by Senators Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases. The ban would include nursing home admission forms. Without this measure, many large companies are able to de-fraud large numbers of consumers without any real consequence because arbitration clauses essentially ban certain class action measures.
Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti know well the damage caused by these misguided and unfair clauses that so many residents agree to unknowingly. This legislation should be welcomed by all those involved who care about fairness and justice for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. We urge supporters to contact their Congressional representatives and share their opinion.
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