Avoiding forced arbitration of nursing home claims

Placing a member of your family in a nursing home is stressful. You are worried about their health, about choosing the right facility, and about their safety at that facility. Then, as part of the admissions process, you are handed a packet of forms and told to sign them where indicated. One of those forms is a binding arbitration agreement, which will prevent you and your loved one from bringing a lawsuit if they are injured or killed due to the nursing home’s neglect.

elderly hands at the nursing home

Do I have to sign the arbitration agreement?

You do not need to sign the arbitration agreement. There are no advantages to signing a forced arbitration agreement, only disadvantages.

  • Arbitration awards are frequently lower than jury verdicts, especially for sympathetic plaintiffs such as elderly or disabled persons.
  • Discovery is limited, allowing the nursing home to hide information that might help your case.
  • Because arbitration is confidential, no one will know about the facility’s negligence.
  • Since an arbitrator’s decision is final, you cannot appeal it.
  • Arbitration can be expensive since you have to pay the arbitrator for his time.

signing paperwork arbitration agreement

How can I avoid signing the arbitration agreement?

Here is what you can do to avoid signing a forced arbitration agreement:

  • Read the entire contract carefully.
  • Ask the facility representative if the contract contains an arbitration agreement.
  • Cross out the arbitration agreement. Initial and date next to the X.
  • Do not sign the arbitration agreement.

If the nursing home fails to provide proper care and your loved one is injured or killed because of a fall, physical or sexual assault, medication error, choking or aspiration event, or pressure ulcer/bedsore, if you did not sign the forced arbitration agreement, you can bring a lawsuit and have your case decided by a jury, or you and your attorney can choose to arbitrate. However, if you did sign the forced arbitration agreement, you have lost that choice, and you must arbitrate. You have waived your Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial.

If you feel that a loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the experienced nursing home attorneys at Allen & Allen for a free consultation, at 866-388-1307.