How Arbitration Clauses Affect Nursing Home Abuse Cases
An elder abuse lawyer can help victims harmed by nursing home abuse to pursue a claim to receive monetary compensation. In most situations when abuse occurs, the victim can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover for losses. If the abuse resulted in a death, surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. While these cases often end up settling out-of-court when the nursing home and its insurer make a settlement offer, victims and their families have the option of proceeding to a trial by jury if no settlement is reached.
Unfortunately, there are times when a victim does not get to have his day in court. This can happen if an arbitration clause was signed as part of initial nursing home paperwork. If you signed an arbitration clause, you will have to try to pursue a case through arbitration to get compensation. This may not be as effective of a method of getting you the money you deserve.
Whether your case is going to be resolved through arbitration or through litigation, you need an experienced Irvine elder abuse attorney looking out for you. Contact Brown & Charbonneau, LLP as soon as possible to find out how we can help.
How an Arbitration Clauses Affect a Nursing Home Abuse Case
The Washington Post published an article highlighting the problems of arbitration clauses in cases of nursing home abuse. The case told the story of a legal guardian who signed nursing home admission papers on behalf of his old friend. There were dozens of papers, which the legal guardian signed without looking closely at them. One of those papers was an arbitration agreement, which required that all disputes against the nursing home be resolved by an arbitrator instead of in court.
Unfortunately, shortly after the man was admitted into the nursing home, he was dropped while nursing home staff were using a lift device. The fall caused extensive bleeding in the brain, which caused death several days later. Unfortunately, the family was not able to pursue a civil case against the nursing home as a result of the arbitration clause in the initial paperwork. Arbitration clauses like this one have become very common and most people sign them without realizing they are giving up important legal rights.
The problem for those who sign arbitration clauses is that arbitration is often not very effective for those seeking a remedy for nursing home abuse. One issue is that it can be very costly, as families who wish to pursue a legal remedy through arbitration end up having to pay a portion of the fees charged by the arbitrator. These fees can total hundreds of dollars per hour.
The cost of arbitration is especially a problem because victims of nursing home abuse and their family members often receive much more limited compensation, or even no compensation, when they pursue cases against nursing homes in arbitration instead of in court.
A study of 1,449 claims involving long-term care providers from 2003 to 2011 revealed that there was no money at all awarded to victims and their families in 30 percent of the claims where an arbitration agreement kept the case out of court. When there was either no arbitration agreement or the agreement was not enforced, there were only 19 percent of cases in which no money was awarded to plaintiffs seeking compensation for nursing home abuses.
Studies have also shown that while 12 percent of claims without arbitration agreements ended up with plaintiffs receiving at least $250,000 in compensation, victims were awarded this amount or greater in just 8.5 percent of cases.
Arbitration proceedings are also confidential, with results kept secret. This means there is no precedent established which could affect future cases. It also means nursing homes may be able to avoid having abuse become public knowledge. Without a past record of abuse, the nursing home can continue operations more easily since the public won’t be aware of its bad practices.
Getting Help from an Elder Abuse Lawyer
An Irvine elder abuse lawyer at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide legal representation to you after you or someone you love has been the victim of nursing home abuse. We understand the arbitration process and can help you to work within the system of arbitration if you have to in order to get justice.
We will also argue that an arbitration clause should not be enforced if there are valid grounds to do so, and can provide you with aggressive and knowledgeable representation in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit arising from nursing home abuse. To learn more, give us a call at (866)237-8129 or contact us online.