Using arbitration instead of litigation sounds like a good idea on the surface. After all, isn’t it best to resolve nursing home abuse cases as quickly and quietly as possible?
Some people don’t believe so. In fact, 34 senators and attorneys general nationwide have banded together in an attempt to ban pre-dispute arbitration agreements from nursing homes. They are joined by more than 50 different organizations that share the same goal.
Together, they point out that victims who use arbitration typically receive around 35 percent less in compensation than those who take their cases to trial.
According to an article on the National Public Radio (NPR) website, the federal government has heard and responded. It recently proposed a new regulation that would make it easier for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect to sue negligent nursing facilities across the U.S.
Under the proposed regulation, nursing homes would no longer be allowed to make signing an arbitration agreement a prerequisite to admission. (Right now, many older adults have to agree to arbitrate, not litigate, potential disputes before they will be accepted to nursing homes.)
The new federal regulation would also force nursing facilities to clearly explain arbitration agreements to the residents or their families. (Currently, many families are simply asked to sign these agreements without being told what they do.)
If this regulation goes into effect, will it stop nursing home abuse? No, of course not.
However, it will potentially give victims and their families recourse to more financial compensation. It can also help lift the veil of secrecy, making such incidents public through the trial process instead of hiding them. Such visibility may prompt nursing homes in Pennsylvania and nationwide to put stricter safeguards in place to prevent future abuse.
To learn more about the current state of the law and your rights, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer skilled in this area.