As family members get older and require more professional medical care, many families are in a position where they cannot provide the level of care that their loved one requires. Over the past few decades, nursing homes have become an increasingly popular option for families when looking for a place for their elderly loved one. In theory, nursing homes are a great idea. However, the reality is that nursing homes and their employees sometimes fail to live up to the duty placed upon them.
Generally speaking, nursing homes have a duty to each of their residents to provide a safe place to live, to provide a certain level of care, and to ensure that residents are free from abuse at the hands of staff members or other residents. If a nursing home is found to have violated this duty to its residents, it may be held financially liable for any injuries that result from the abuse or neglect.
One problem that many families face when filing a wrongful death lawsuit against a Georgia nursing home is compelled arbitration. Arbitration is a proceeding that results in a non-judicial yet binding ruling made by a third party. Many times, nursing homes will include arbitration clauses in the initial care contract, compelling residents or their families to pursue any causes of action against the nursing home through arbitration, rather than through the court system. The problem with this is that the arbitration panels are selected by the nursing homes, and the arbitration results tend to favor nursing homes. A recent case in front of the Georgia Court of Appeals shows the difficulties families may face when trying to file a personal injury or wrongful death case against a nursing home when an arbitration clause was included in an initial care contract.
Kindred Nursing Centers v. Chrzanowksi: The Facts
The plaintiffs’ loved one fell while living alone and was placed in the defendant nursing home. Prior to her admission, the woman signed a care contract containing an arbitration clause. While there, she suffered several other falls, eventually leading to her death.
The plaintiffs filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home, claiming that the home failed to provide adequate care and supervision. In response, the nursing home sought to compel arbitration, pursuant to the contract the plaintiffs’ loved one had signed prior to her admission into the facility. The plaintiffs argued that at the time their loved one signed the contract, she was not competent to do so.
The trial court denied the nursing home’s motion, holding that the nursing home failed to provide any affirmative evidence to dispute the plaintiffs’ claims. However, on appeal, the court reversed the ruling, holding that the lower court’s ruling impermissibly shifted the burden of proof onto the defendant. The court explained that the duty was on the plaintiffs to show that their loved one lacked capacity to enter into the contract. As a result, the family will likely be required to submit their grievances to the arbitration process.
Has Your Loved One Suffered Abuse or Neglect in a Georgia Nursing Home?
If you believe that your loved one has suffered at the hands of abusive or neglectful nursing home staff, you or your loved one may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. The skilled personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at McAleer Law have over 30 years of collective experience protecting and enforcing the rights of victims. Call 404-622-5337 today to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.
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