The admission process for nursing home residents can be stressful and hectic, but understanding the consequences of signing an arbitration agreement is extremely important. If your loved one is unable to sign documents or does not have the mental capacity to understand them, you may be called upon to sign for her. These documents are not trivial and can even deprive the resident of constitutional rights if not examined closely. Additionally, if you have been appointed as a representative, such as a Power of Attorney or Health Care Surrogate, your signature’s binding effect increases.
First and foremost, it is important that you read the documents carefully and ask questions to the admissions coordinator. If you have any reservations about signing the agreement, you should take the time to consult with an attorney. Below is an overview of the typical admissions process.
The Admission Agreement is the agreement or contract between you and the nursing home, which allows your loved one to take residence in the nursing home. The Admission Agreement will be fairly long and cover a number of items including but not limited to:
- Who the legal representative is;
- Who the responsible party will be;
- Bed reservation policy;
- Transfer policy;
- Personal property including management of funds;
- Medical treatment;
- Release of information; and
- Advance directives.
Arbitration Agreement or ADR Agreement
In addition to the Admission Agreement, the nursing home will most likely ask you to sign an Arbitration Agreement or ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Agreement. These agreements reflect a contemporary legal trend to keep nursing home lawsuits out of court and away from jury trials. Arbitration is essentially the privatization of the legal system as lawyers, not judges, preside over arbitration. The bottom line is that these arbitration agreements deprive citizens of their constitutional right to trial by jury. Therefore, if your loved one is neglected or abused, your lawsuit could end up before an arbitrator instead of in front of a jury of your peers. Arbitration was conceived and implemented by large corporations and insurance companies as a way of restricting the legal rights of ordinary citizens. The process is designed to heavily favor the corporations who own and operate the nursing homes and to prohibit injured victims from being fully compensated for their injuries.
It is imperative that you avoid signing these agreements. The nursing home cannot require you to sign them for admission. If they do, you should take your loved one to another nursing home. If you have already signed one, there may still be time to revoke it. Typically the revocation period is no more than thirty (30) days and requires you to send a certified letter. This will be covered in the agreement.
Nursing Home Lawsuits
Nursing homes should be a place where the elderly live out the last years of their life in peace and tranquility. However, if you find that your loved one was abused and neglected, the attorneys at Bailey & Greer have the experience necessary to hold these nursing homes accountable. Even if you have signed an Arbitration Agreement, there are often ways to strike down the agreements. If you have any questions, call us at 901.475.7434 for a free consultation.