Forced Arbitration in Nursing Home Contracts
How often have you signed long contracts with a forced arbitration clause buried deep in the fine print? The answer is many; maybe most of the contracts you sign, consumer contracts now have them. Arbitration clauses such as these basically state that in the event of a dispute a consumer cannot take their case to court but must instead submit to mandatory and binding arbitration usually with an arbitrator picked by the company supplying the contract. Unfortunately, these arbitration clauses buried in consumer contracts almost always leave the consumer holding the short end of the stick.
Nursing homes are increasingly inserting these mandatory and binding arbitration clauses into the piles of admission documents, and slyly stripping away the constitutional rights of millions of seniors. A recent report from the American Association for Justice, entitled "Standing Up for Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans," studied the effect of these forced arbitration clauses on seniors in nursing homes. When these arbitration clauses are buried in cell phone contracts, they are bad enough, but when they are buried in nursing home contracts, they can be devastating. The stories are heartbreaking.
One nursing home resident, Irene Hight, was left without fluids for 24 hours. Her daughter found her seriously dehydrated and asked the nursing home staff to call an ambulance. The staff refused and Hight's daughter had to wheel her mother to the hospital across the street. Despite the best efforts of the hospital, her mother died several hours later. When Hight's family tried to take the nursing home to court, they were unable to do so because of a forced arbitration agreement buried deep in the nursing home contract they'd signed upon admitting Mrs. Hight.
In another case, Charles McAlister, a 65-year-old with no legs, received negligent care in his nursing home. The staff failed to care properly for him and he developed severe pressure sores on his hips, resulting in a massive infection and ultimately his death. When his family tried to take the case to court, they were told that McAlister, who was illiterate, demented, and unable to see or hear well, had signed an arbitration clause that prevented them from taking the case to court.
There are many elder abuse cases like the Hight and McAlister's -- cases where the seniors are under considerable stress to sign the contract and have no idea what they were signing, let alone fully understood the repercussions of forced arbitration clauses. Basically in cases where a senior develops bed sores, is abused by a staff member, or dies from dehydration or infection caused by inadequate care, their access to justice in court is essentially cut off.
Receiving Justice for Seniors
There is some hope though for seniors and their families who have forced arbitration agreements in their nursing home contracts. Trial lawyers are taking on nursing homes and their forced arbitration clauses and having some success getting these seniors their day in court.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a nursing home, you should call an experienced elder abuse attorney at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys. Call 800-849-4905. Even if there is a binding arbitration clause in the nursing home agreements, we may be able to help you get your day in court. If you want to know your rights and what your case is worth, you should call today. The call is free. The advice may be priceless.
Call the Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles for a free professional evaluation of your rights by attorneys who have been representing victims of medical malpractice and senior abuse since 1978. You will experience award winning representation and outstanding personal service by a compassionate and understanding law firm in a comfortable environment.