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Nursing home arbitration agreements: work with experienced counsel to ensure enforceability, P.1

When adult children place an elderly parent in the care of a skilled nursing facility, they trust that the facility will ensure that appropriate and timely care is provided to the parent. Unfortunately, nursing home facilities do not always do so and can make a bad reputation for other skilled nursing facilities.

When a resident suffers harm at the hands of negligent or abusive health care providers or other nursing home staff, the resident and his or her family should have the right to seek compensation. By the same token, nursing home staff and administration have the right to defend themselves from baseless claims and to protect themselves from liability. One tool some facilities use to limit liability—and one which has become rather widespread in recent years—is arbitration agreements. 

The use of arbitration agreements to resolve disputes is fairly common in nursing home care nowadays, with many facilities requiring residents to sign such agreements as a condition for admission for residency. Some argue that arbitration agreements can be problematic from the perspective of nursing home residents, putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to settling disputes.

One of the problems with arbitration agreements, according to those who hold them in disfavor, is that residents don’t necessarily know what they are signing when they enter into such agreements. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may not be fair to enforce an agreement, which is why some nursing homes may require the signature of a family member of the resident.

In cases where family members do not sign an arbitration agreement, it may still be possible for surviving family members to sue a negligent facility in court for wrongful death, but it depends on where you live and the circumstances of the case.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue. 

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