Many nursing homes go out of their way to protect themselves legally in the admission contracts they make with their residents. These contracts often state that if the nursing home does something wrong that the resident and their family will be limited in their right to compensation. Residents who sign these agreements usually assume they have no other choice. Sometimes, however, families can be compensated in spite of what the contract says.
For example, many of these contracts contain Arbitration Clauses. The Arbitration Clause may say that if there is a legal dispute, that the family can not sue in a court of law and must instead go through the process of Arbitration to resolve the dispute. The process of Arbitration is explained in greater detail in my website.
Arbitration can be either binding or non-binding. Binding Arbitration means that whatever decision is rendered during the Arbitration process can not be appealed to a court of law and is binding on the parties. Non-binding Arbitration, on the other hand, means that the parties go through the process of Arbitration, but that either party may appeal the Arbitration decision to a court of law.
Many times, arbitration is a good solution to a dispute as it saves the parties the time, money, and stress of litigation. Other times, Arbitration is not the best solution if one party has an unfair advantage over the other party during the Arbitration process such as having legal counsel present at the Arbitration when the other party does not have legal counsel.
Legal counsel is not required during the Arbitration process so there are times when a party may think that they can do just as good a job representing themselves during the Arbitration process and then find out that it would have been a better outcome if they would have had legal counsel. If Arbitration is binding, then the losing party has now lost their right to appeal the decision to a court of law and must live with the decision rendered during the Arbitration process.
Binding Arbitration can be so damaging to a party that many Georgia courts have held that binding Arbitration clauses in many contracts are unenforceable. Therefore, a nursing home contract with a binding Arbitration clause can be bad news for the family since they may lose the protections that they would have had in a court of law such as rights to obtaining and admitting certain evidence to a court, the right to have a case heard by a jury, the right to proper cross examination of witnesses, and the right to appeal to a higher court of law, and these are just to name a few of the rights that a party surrenders with binding Arbitration.
In one recent case a woman in a nursing home in Pennsylvania died from injuries she suffered when she was thrown from a wheelchair while being transported to a doctors appointment. When the family sued for compensation, the nursing home referenced the contract which stated that any dispute arising from the contract had to go to binding Arbitration. In this case, the Pennsylvania Superior Court took the side of the family and said that the contract required binding Arbitration only if there was a financial dispute with the nursing home and, therefore, the woman’s wheelchair injury was a different matter that didn’t arise from the admission contract and was, therefore, not subject to the binding Arbitration provision.
This case illustrates the importance of reading and understanding any and all contracts that a person enters into and whether or not said contracts contain Arbitration provisions and, if so, are the Arbitration provisions binding or non-binding, and what exactly do the provisions cover. The details can very well be hidden in the fine print so it is very important that a person seeks the advice of an experienced Attorney to read and discuss the contract provisions of any contract before the parties enter into an agreement.
At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates, we are experts at contract review so please kindly call us at any time if you have questions about a contract and are in need of a contract review. We are also experts at representing people in Nursing Home Abuse Cases so please contact us if you feel that you or a loved one has been a victim of Nursing Home Abuse. Our initial consultations are free and we are available around the clock to assist you with your legal situation. We can be reached at any of the following numbers: (813) 363-6664, and (770) 865-8654 or Contact Us on our website..
Don’t enter into a contract until you know exactly what the provisions of the contract are and exactly what the provisions mean to insure that you don’t give up any valuable legal rights that you deserve. Also, don’t let you or your loved ones become victims of Nursing Home Abuse. Please contact us for experienced Legal Representation in both the matters of Contracts and Nursing Home Abuse. We are here to assist and protect you!