Putting a loved one in a long term care facility for the elderly is often a hard time in our lives. Circumstances may not allow us to take care of them the way that we want to and so we must rely on nursing homes to provide them with the around the clock care that they need. Sadly, these facilities aren’t always what they seem. For instance, what happens if you’re made to sign a nursing home arbitration agreement? What rights do you have if something goes wrong?
If you or a loved one is going to be entering into a long term care facility, hiring a lawyer that specializes in nursing home abuse cases to help with all of the paperwork and legal aspects may save a lot of headaches later on.
Arbitration Agreements and Long Term Care Facilities
In the past, long term care facilities made admission contingent on the signing of mounds of paperwork. Among this paperwork was a nursing home arbitration agreement that residents had to sign that basically said that all legal matters would be settled outside of a courtroom.
This often made issues in matters that would otherwise be legal to favor the long term care facility over the patient’s rights. The laws regarding these arbitration agreements have gone back and forth over the last few years.
Under the Obama administration, there was a change to the way that these arbitration agreements were handled in long term care facilities. It was considered a violation of Medicaid and Medicare rules. These arbitration agreements were considered to be optional in the eyes of the law and a resident was not required to sign one to enter the facility.
This has recently changed though. New changes to the rules on arbitration agreements make them admissible and they can be upheld as long as the resident or their power of attorney understand what they are signing and what it means.
The rules have also been adjusted to state that all rulings within the arbitration must be fair to both parties involved. Prior to this, the patient’s rights were not protected in the original outline of terms.
Can I Fight a Nursing Home Arbitration Agreement?
It is possible for an arbitration agreement to be fought in the state of Florida. There are cases that have been tried and found in favor of the victim because the courts found that the arbitration agreement could not be upheld in that scenario.
When a long term facility implies that a resident must sign the arbitration agreement to be allowed to live there, this counts as a violation. A lot of times the facility will not come out and say these words, but they may make it harder to be admitted until the form is signed.
There have been cases, especially in court, where it was argued that the paperwork was not clear enough for the person to understand and they were not competent to sign such a legally binding agreement. This made the arbitration agreement inadmissible.
Another scenario, and it is one that all humans are guilty of, is when there are pages among pages of paperwork that have to be filled out and by page 20, we are tired of reading, so we just start skimming and signing. Most arbitration agreements are strategically placed among the paperwork at these facilities. A lot of times they get signed and the person has no idea they signed it. It is possible to argue that there was no knowledge of the arbitration agreement because it was not specifically discussed.
While these are only possible defenses, it is best to get a lawyer involved if you plan on trying to file a lawsuit against a long term care facility. If there is an arbitration agreement in place, it will be the lawyer who can come up with the best line of defense to fight it. Especially in cases where elder abuse is involved, you will want someone who specializes in those kinds of cases.
This is not a guarantee that an arbitration agreement can be overruled though. That would be up to the courts to decide.
When to Call A Lawyer
If you believe that the long term care facility that your loved one is living in has been abusing them, call a lawyer at the first suspicion. A qualified and experienced nursing home abuse law firm in Lakeland, Florida can guide you on the steps that you need to take in filing a lawsuit. These lawyers will also help you gather the evidence you need to fully support your case.