Near the end of September, the Department of Health and Human Resources promulgated a new rule that prohibits nursing homes that receive federal funding from requiring its residents to resolve disputes through arbitration.
The agency reasoned that forced arbitration clauses found in nursing home contracts kept widespread patterns of elder abuse out of the public view. The result is that residents and their families can seek justice in an open forum for the abuse and neglect that they have suffered.
What Is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution that is an alternative to going before a judge in a court of law. Usually written into a contract, both parties agree to discuss a settlement with an impartial arbitrator and the final product is binding. This means that each party waives their right to have an independent review of the facts before a judge or jury.
The final award is usually sealed to the public so only the parties involved know the final resolution.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Arbitration
Arbitration agreements are becoming increasingly common because they have many practical benefits. Generally arbitration:
- Is cheaper than litigating in court
- Is faster than other alternatives
- Allows more control over the outcome
While arbitration can be beneficial, forced arbitration has many drawbacks. Forced arbitration:
- Is unreviewable by a court of law
- Effectively hides criminal and civil misconduct
- Is generally sealed to the public
Since arbitration agreements are common in many types of contracts, you should always make sure that you have a qualified attorney review any document that you sign to make sure that it is in your best interest.
Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes
Unfortunately, elder abuse is far too common in nursing homes today. Fortunately, this new rule will help victims of nursing home abuse get the recourse that they legally deserve. If you or a loved one has been the victim of any form of elder abuse, you should immediately contact an attorney.
If you reside in Oregon, the attorneys at Dwyer Williams Dretke, LLP have years of experience specializing in elder abuse cases. Attorneys are available for a free case evaluation to determine the damages that you may be entitled to receive. Please contact us at (541) 617-0555.
While nothing can eliminate the pain that elder abuse causes, everyone is entitled to legal protection under the law.