For years, nursing home contracts nationwide have contained dangerous arbitration clauses that force nursing home and long term care facility residents to give up one crucial legal right—the right to take that facility to court if a resident’s health or safety becomes compromised. These clauses were often inserted into resident contracts for federally-funded nursing homes and care facilities in order to cut costs. Specifically, legal costs.
The most unfortunate part about these arbitration clauses is the fact that most residents and their family members are unaware of them completely. When a family makes the decision to place an elderly loved one in a nursing home, the last thing they’re thinking about is the possibility of having to go to court. This is a stressful and emotional time for families. When nursing homes hide these clauses in the tiny print of admittance contracts, most family members don’t even realize what they’re signing.
It’s a downright sneaky move—one that costs lives. Every year we hear stories about nursing home residents who are abused, neglected, and even killed in some cases due to carelessness or negligence. When residents and their loved ones can’t legally do anything to protect the residents from negligence, what’s stopping nursing home staff members from getting away with whatever they can?
Just last November there was a case about a 100-year-old woman who was murdered in a nursing home. The case was blocked from court due to the arbitration clause. In another case, a 94-year-old woman died of a head wound that was the nursing home’s fault. Both families could legally do nothing about the deaths of their loved ones.
Instead, the cases were made public by The New York Times. Legal organizations like the American Association for Justice and Take Justice Back have continuously been fighting against forced arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts. It’s been a long road, but finally, after a ruling that was decided upon in court on September 28th, we’re delivering justice back to where it belongs—in the hands of long term care facility residents and their families. The ruling states that nursing homes will be barred from having arbitration clauses in resident contracts.
In a statement issued on the day of the rule, Senator Patrick Leahy said, “The sad reality is that today too many Americans must choose between forfeiting their legal rights and getting adequate medical care.” The rule was decided upon after officials in 16 states and the District of Columbia urged the U.S. government to cut funding from nursing homes that use the arbitration clause.
The U.S. hasn’t seen a major change like this to the federal funding of long term care facilities in over two decades. This is a huge step forward for everyone who has a loved one residing in a nursing home or similar type of facility. It’s also a huge step for American legal rights as a whole. When rights are given back to the people, our nation is able to become the best it can be.
For more information about forced arbitration or to find out what you can do to protect your loved ones who reside in long term care facilities, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Thomas Law Offices. Tad Thomas, Louisville, KY nursing home neglect lawyer, and his team of expert personal injury attorneys can help you obtain justice on behalf of your loved one.