Recently, the Pennsylvania Superior Court vacated a lower court’s decision to send a nursing home dispute to arbitration. The case involved a facility that was defending a wrongful death claim filed by the family of a former resident. The resident’s family argued that she was not competent enough at the time of admission to sign an arbitration agreement, and the facility disputed that argument.
The story made headlines, but not everyone in the same situation has a similar outcome. It is not uncommon for nursing homes to require residents to sign an arbitration agreement before they will admit them. Below, our attorney explains why signing such an agreement is a poor decision.
You Will Forfeit Your Rights
Under the Constitution, you have certain rights when you have a legal dispute. Those include the right to a speedy trial, and the right for a judge or jury to hear your case. The vast majority of nursing home abuse cases settle outside of court anyway, but this is no reason to sign an arbitration agreement. If you do sign such a document, you will give up your right to that trial, which may result in you not recovering the full damages you deserve.
The Arbitrator is Likely Not on Your Side
Arbitrators are supposed to be objective third parties that are not working in favor of either side. Sadly, this happens in the minority of cases. The same arbitrators are often used in nursing home abuse cases, and they are often involved with the same nursing home staff and owners. If they regularly decide on the side of plaintiffs and award them high settlements, they will lose repeat customers, which is bad for business.
Arbitration is Costly
Arbitration is an expensive method of resolving legal disputes. Typically, these services cost as much as $400 to $1,000 per hour. You are responsible for paying these fees, and there is no way to have them waived. However, if you use another dispute resolution method, you may be able to obtain waivers for court fees. If you are successful with your case outside of arbitration, the nursing home will also likely be responsible for paying your legal fees, making it a much more affordable option.
There is No Option for Appeal
If your nursing home abuse case does go to trial and a judge or jury does not decide in your favor, you have the right to appeal the decision. On the other hand, if you go through arbitration, the decision of the arbitrator is final and legally binding, meaning you cannot appeal it.
Our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in Allentown Can Help with Your Case
Do not wait until you have a dispute to call our Allentown nursing home negligence lawyers at van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin. We will review the paperwork for you before you admit your loved one or sign any papers to ensure your rights are protected. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.