When an elderly person moves into a nursing home, there is a good chance that the facility will ask the elder or their family members to review and sign various documents. Patients and their families are often pressured into signing these documents, even if they don’t fully understand the more technical language that these documents contain. At Yee Law Group, our Sacramento, CA elder law attorney understands that pressure and understands how disconcerting it can be when patients and families discover that they have unintentionally signed certain rights away during intake. For example, many nursing facilities have patients and their families sign intake forms indicating that any legal problems will be handled via arbitration, not litigation. Nursing home arbitration agreements tend to protect the facility more than the elder.
Should You Sign a Nursing Home’s Arbitration Agreement?
If you sign an arbitration agreement, you essentially agree that in the event of an issue that cannot be amicably resolved, you will take the conflict to an arbitrator. For example, if your elderly loved one is being physically abused, and you signed an arbitration agreement, you may find that it is difficult (if not impossible) for your Sacramento elder abuse lawyer to take the nursing facility directly to court. There could also be other rules that prohibit you from filing a complaint, or making your allegations public.
Arbitration agreements generally never support the interests of the elder. In general, the elder and their family will have to cover the costs of the arbitration process which may be thousands of dollars. Perhaps the biggest benefit to arbitration agreements for the nursing home is the fact that, unlike in civil court records, there will be no public record of the situation. So, using the same example above, if your elderly loved one was abused, and you only settled through arbitration, the public will not find out about what happened. Arbitration is private and almost always protected by confidentiality agreements. The concern here is that a facility could have years of incidents, but when they only are resolved through arbitration, no one will know. If you have already signed an arbitration agreement though, please don’t panic. An experienced Sacramento elder abuse lawyer can help you determine whether you may be able to “get around” this provision. Alternatively, if you are ultimately compelled to submit to arbitration, a Sacramento elder abuse lawyer can advocate on behalf of your loved one’s interests during this process, so that it is as beneficial for your loved one as it can possibly be.
If your elderly loved one has been abused in a nursing home, and you signed an arbitration agreement. Please call a Sacramento elder abuse lawyer from Yee Law Group to explore your options. If the facility is covered by Medicare or Medicaid, it may be possible to argue a direct violation of certain Federal Regulations, which includes the right to access the civil justice system, occurred. There may be other legislation in place that could protect you and your elder from having to follow the facility’s rules for arbitration. All hope is not lost. Call our firm today so that we can help you find the best way forward.