Congress is considering the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2009, which would invalidate mandatory arbitration agreements in nursing homes. This is an important law that needs to be passed in order to advance in the fight against nursing home abuse.
Nursing homes make you sign a mandatory arbitration agreement when they accept your loved one for admission. Initially, nursing homes win you over with their promises of good, attentive, compassionate, and empathetic care. The last thing you are thinking about at that time is a nursing home abuse lawsuit. If, however, your family does find itself in the midst of injuries suffered by your loved due to nursing home abuse and neglect, you bet that nursing home will be quick to remind you of the mandatory arbitration agreement they made you sign. This agreement means you cannot sue the facility. Since the nursing home has eliminated the chance a jury could punish them for providing the bad care that injured your loved one, the nursing home had very little incentive to make sure they provided good care. When your family wants to know how your loved one was injured, the promises made during admission will be replaced with excuses. Excuses cannot return your loved one’s dignity, or the pain these injuries force your loved one to endure during their limited remaining days on this earth. The nursing home also has little incentive to make sure it does not happen to the next family in your position, because they will be forced to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement too.
How does this happen?
You can’t provide the care and support your loved one needs, and you arrive at the realization you must place them in a nursing home. The reason may be for long term care, although hopefully it is for rehabilitation with the goal of sending them back home. You choose a nursing home to place your loved one. When signing the package of numerous documents presented to you during the admission process (picture all of the documents you signed when you bought your first house being presented to you one after the other), you will eventually be presented with a mandatory arbitration agreement. Unfortunately, few people understand what they are signing, or why they are signing it.
Many nursing home admissions are directly from a hospital, and occur after a medical emergency such as a stroke or broken hip. Families often have no choice but to accept the first available nursing home with an available bed. When families unknowingly sign away their right to sue the nursing home, they believe they will get the good care they are promised. The last thing on their mind is that the nursing homes will injure their loved one by allowing pressure sores that lead to infections and amputation of limbs; suffocation on bedrails and other restraining devices; serious fractures from preventable falls; physical and sexual assault; renal failure from dehydration; malnutrition; medication errors; and death from fires in unsafe buildings.
Mandatory Arbitration Agreements are Unfair
Now that you know what a mandatory arbitration agreement is, and what it means to the family of an abused nursing home resident, ask yourself if that is fair. What does it say to you about an industry that promises good care and at the same time asks you to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement that protects them from being held accountable for bad care? Nursing homes know that if a court upholds a mandatory arbitration agreement, a jury with the power to punish the nursing home for often deplorable conduct will never have a chance to hurt their nursing home in the only place that matters to them – the pocketbook.
The Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act would end the practice of making families agree to give up the right to a jury trial in order to get their loved one accepted by a nursing home. Congress should send a message to the industry that injuring residents is not simply a cost of doing business. Compassion should be enough of a reason for a nursing home to provide the good care they promise. Since the industry has proven time and a gain that they will not do this voluntarily, Congress must keep open the only avenue that does hold them accountable – a jury who can listens to the evidence and judge their conduct.
NJ and PA Nursing Home Abuse and Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you or a loved one have suffered the effects of nursing negligence or abuse, call an experienced New Jersey or Pennsylvania Nursing Home Abuse attorney at the Mininno Law Office. We will work hard to get you to compensation you deserve!
Contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation or call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.