When it comes to elderly care, nursing homes and long-term care facilities continue to abuse their residents far too frequently. Not only are these places abusing them, but they are also requiring their residents to give up the right to sue them for it by sneaking forced arbitration clauses into their contracts. For more than a decade, the justice system has been taken over by arbitration. This transition has forced many of the nation’s citizens to give up their legal rights.
Cutting Legal Costs Through Forced Arbitration
With the arbitration system in place, the nursing home industry has seen its legal costs drop significantly, but this has come at the expense of nursing home residents and their families. Too often, arbitration prevents people from getting justice. Even when a resident has been murdered in a home, facilities have blocked families from obtaining justice by using arbitration clauses.
Along with blocking people from using the legal system effectively, arbitration clauses have allowed elderly care facilities to push quality of care and safety disputes out of the view of the public. Today, too many people are forced to choose between gaining access to adequate medical care and their legal rights.
The Legality of Arbitration Agreements
In recent years, Florida’s appeals courts have been dealing with questions about the legality of arbitration agreements signed by a resident’s family during the admissions process of many nursing homes. A common factor of these types of arbitration clauses is that in most cases, elderly care residents and their families are unaware that the agreement is included in the admittance paperwork, so they don’t realize what they’ve signed. When a family is facing the tough decision of sending an elderly loved one to an assisted care facility, they aren’t thinking that they may wind up in court at some point.
The Federal Government Makes a Move
A federal agency that’s part of the Health and Human Services Department has taken steps to prevent elderly care facilities from forcing claims involving abuse, wrongful death and neglect into arbitration. This agency oversees more than $1 trillion in Medicare and Medicaid funding, and it issued a rule that bans any elderly care facility that receives federal funding from requiring its residents to settle legal issues through arbitration.
According to reports, the new rule will affect 1.5 million nursing home residents, and it promises to provide sweeping new protections. A spokesperson for the nursing home industry stated that the agency was exceeding its authority and that regulations designed to protect the health and safety of elderly residents was unnecessary.
The U.S. hasn’t faced a major federal funding change of this magnitude for long-term care in more than 20 years. This is a key win for those who have someone that they love living in this type of home. The new regulation is also a huge step for people’s legal rights in general. When people regain their rights, the nation becomes better.
Forced Arbitration Clauses No Longer Permitted in Florida
A lawsuit involving arbitration and injuries incurred by a nursing home resident recently reached the Florida Supreme Court. After hearing the case, the court’s ruling was in line with the new government regulations against the industry. The Florida court decided that when lawsuits are filed against nursing homes for resident injuries, these suits should not be arbitrated.
The case that brought about the change involved an elderly man and his son. When the son admitted his father into the home, he signed a contract agreeing to arbitration. However, after his father developed a severe infection that caused him to lose his left eye, the son filed a lawsuit against the facility. The nursing home fought back by claiming that the case should go to arbitration.
While the Third District Court of Appeal and a circuit court judge agreed that the case should be arbitrated, the Supreme Court sided with the son and said that the father was not bound by a contract that he did not sign.
Righting a Wrong
With the recent Supreme Court ruling and federal regulations, nursing homes can no longer force someone to sign an admittance contract that includes a binding arbitration agreement. Residents now have the right to sue when they suffer abuse or neglect at the hands of a long-term care facility or nursing home.
If you have a family member or know someone who has become victim to elder abuse, contact the Florida Nursing Home Abuse lawyers at David & Philpot, P.L. today. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients and will work diligently to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. You don’t pay anything until your claim is settled.
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