Articles Posted in Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse

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Nursing home arbitration clauses have recently come under heavy scrutiny. These clauses, which may act to prevent a party from filing a lawsuit in a court of law, are often contained in large blocks of small print, making it unlikely that the person signing the contract fully understands the importance of the rights they are giving up. As a result, courts routinely invalidate nursing home arbitration agreements when the inclusion and enforcement of the clause would violate general contract law.

Signature LineHowever, in a recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion, the Court found in favor of a nursing home, upholding the arbitration agreement that the plaintiffs signed.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving loved ones of two family members who died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. Prior to admitting their loved ones to the nursing home, they obtained a valid power of attorney document, giving them the ability to “dispose of all matters” related to their loved ones.

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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.

Signing a ContractGenerally 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.

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