An End to Forced Nursing Home Arbitration?
In an open letter to the United States Senate, the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) has unequivocally stated its support for the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (S. 512/H.R. 1237). The proposed legislation pursues the abolition of forced arbitration language from nursing home contracts. These contracts, which are signed before an elderly person can receive care in a nursing home or assisted living facility, often contain legal language that forces the families of those harmed or killed by nursing home neglect and elderly abuse into preplanned arbitration.
Critics of forced arbitration claim that the practice short circuits the right to a jury trial. When someone signs a contract with this forced arbitration language buried in the contract terms, he or she is giving up substantial rights to litigate.
The right to sue in the event of negligent or harmful service is one of the powers that consumers have over service providers. When that power is taken away by forced arbitration clauses buried in contracts the consumer suffers, as the NCCNHR states in its open letter:
“Countless government studies show that in spite of improvements in nursing home regulation and enforcement, state regulators still under-cite the seriousness of deficiencies in which residents are harmed; levy fines that are little more than the cost of doing business; and allow facilities to operate year-after-year with serious, repeat problems.
Mandatory arbitration clauses only further this crisis by serving to protect providers from accountability for bad care. By allowing the provider to pick the arbitration company with which it routinely does business and the rules of the arbitration, the system is set up to heavily favor the provider and leave the family with little or no hope of obtaining justice for their loved one.”
If you have any questions about nursing home contracts and forced arbitration, please call the Irvine nursing home abuse attorneys at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas.