The current administration is proposing a new rule for how injured nursing home residents are able to pursue damages against negligent long-term care facilities. Existing law allows injured individuals to go to trial by jury when filing a claim. If passed, the new rule would force them and their families exclusively into the arbitration process.
Forcing arbitration on vulnerable and injured nursing home patients only serves to protect negligent care facilities from facing a full range of consequences – and it serves as a staunch reminder for how profits are being valued over people.
Arbitration takes place outside of court and an impartial third party, or arbitrator, oversees the process. In our courts, however, issues are resolved by a judge and jury. Arbitration means that a jury will never hear an injured person’s case, and often, recoveries in favor of plaintiffs during arbitration are 35% lower than claims that are heard in a court of law.
Requiring already-vulnerable nursing home residents to sign legal documents agreeing to go to arbitration in the case of a dispute with nursing facilities severely limits their rights. Because attorneys play a limited role during arbitration, the full scope of a plaintiff’s injuries, damages, and trauma may not be fully identified – and that means that injured parties do not stand a fair chance for getting justice.
Additionally, some long-term care facilities are now refusing residence to in-need patients who refuse to sign their arbitration agreements. Many elderly and/or disabled individuals sign these agreements before understanding exactly what they mean, and for others desperately seeking placement and with nowhere else to go, there is simply no other choice.
Many people are speaking out against the current administration’s rule proposal. According to senior counsel with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the secrecy of the forced arbitration process will only act to compromise the safety of future residents. Because a nursing home’s track record of negligence claims would not be public (like it would be during and after litigation), it would be “bad for everyone else whose victimization could’ve been stopped if they’d have known that this was a bad facility.”
If you want to speak out against the rule proposal, contact your local representatives and voice your concerns.
We will continue to update this story as it develops. If you have questions about filing a nursing home neglect or abuse claim, please contact a representative at our firm directly.
Our personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia are experienced in representing victims of nursing home negligence. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.