Placing a loved one in a long-term care facility for seniors is often a difficult time in our lives. Circumstances may not allow us to care for them the way we want and therefore we must rely on nursing homes to provide them with the care they need 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, these facilities are not always what they seem. For example, what happens if you are forced to sign an arbitration agreement in a nursing home? What rights do you have if something goes wrong?
If you or a loved one is going into a long-term care facility, hiring an attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse cases to help with all the paperwork and legal issues can save you future headaches.
Arbitration agreements and long-term care centers
In the past, long-term care facilities made admission dependent on signing lots of documents. Among this paperwork was a nursing home arbitration agreement that residents had to sign, which basically said that all legal matters would be resolved outside of the courtroom.
This often created problems in matters that would otherwise be legal in favor of long-term care over patient rights. The laws on these arbitration agreements have come and gone in recent years.
Under the Obama administration, there was a change in the way these arbitration deals were handled in long-term care facilities. It was considered a violation of Medicaid and Medicare rules. These arbitration agreements were considered optional in the eyes of the law and a resident was not required to sign one to enter the facility.
However, this has recently changed. New changes to the rules on arbitration agreements make them admissible and can be maintained as long as the resident or his power of attorney understands what they are signing and what it means.
The rules have also been adjusted to state that all decisions within arbitration must be fair to both parties involved. Prior to this, the patient’s rights were not protected in the original scheme of terms.
Can I fight an arbitration agreement in a nursing home?
An arbitration agreement may be fought in the state of Florida. There are cases that have been tried and found in favor of the victim because the courts determined that the arbitration agreement could not be maintained in this scenario.
When a long-term facility implies that a resident must sign the arbitration agreement in order to live there, this is considered a violation. Many times the installation will not come out and say these words, but it can make admission difficult until the form is signed.
There have been cases, especially in the courts, where it was argued that the paperwork was not clear enough for the person to understand and was not competent to sign a legally binding agreement. This made the arbitration agreement inadmissible.
Another scenario, and it’s one that all humans are guilty of, is when there are pages between pages of paperwork that need to be completed and on page 20, we are tired of reading, so we just started reading and signing. Most arbitration agreements are strategically located among the paperwork at these facilities. Many times they are signed and the person has no idea that they signed it. It is possible to argue that the arbitration agreement was not known because it was not specifically discussed.
While these are only possible defenses, it is best to involve an attorney if you plan to file a lawsuit against a long-term care facility. If there is an arbitration agreement, it will be the lawyer who can find the best line of defense to combat it. Especially in cases where elder abuse is involved, you’ll want someone who specializes in those types of cases.
However, this does not guarantee that an arbitration agreement can be annulled. That would depend on the courts to decide.
When to call a lawyer
If you think the long-term care facility your loved one lives in has been abusing them, call an attorney at first suspicion. A qualified and experienced nursing home abuse law firm in Lakeland, Florida can guide you through the steps you need to take to file a lawsuit. These attorneys will also help you gather the evidence you need to fully support your case.