New Rule on Arbitration Agreements in Nursing Homes
Arbitration have long been a thorn in the side of consumers, in California and elsewhere, showing up in our credit card, cell phone, TV and other customer agreements. While the issue is starting to draw some mainstream attention, arbitration clauses have worked themselves into almost every contract that consumers sign these days because consumers have not pushed back hard enough on the companies that are using them. In essence, consumers are agreeing to waive their constitutional right to access to the courts, and instead are directed towards an “arbitrator” who is hired by the very company you are seeking damages from.
Arbitration clauses originated as a way for companies to settle disagreements more easily but as it turns out many arbitrations are more expensive and time consuming than a jury trial. Now, companies are using them because the company can hire arbitrators that are in their back pocket and give them decisions that are favorable (whereas a jury they can’t pay to control). Additionally, companies have used them to keep their “dirty laundry” secret when companies didn’t want their internal affairs to become public knowledge as would happen in a complaint filed for a lawsuit in court. Since the practice was so effective in taking away people/consumer’s rights and benefiting corporate malfeasance, arbitration clauses became standard in almost any agreement that consumers sign with a company.
California has often taken issue with arbitration clauses in consumer contract, and even attempted to block them entirely before the Supreme Court overruled it. Fortunately, now, California has passed a new law that would prevent nursing homes from forcing their resident to sign arbitration agreements prior to admission. This law is designed to prevent unscrupulous nursing homes from concealing their misdeeds and preventing seniors who have been victims of negligence and elder abuse from accessing the courts.
In the case of seniors who depend on nursing home staff for their well-being, limiting access to the courts is an even more objectionable tactic than with the general population. In recognition of this, the new California law will remove the barrier for seniors who have been harmed, sexually abused, or otherwise taken advantage of to sue in court.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, contact the Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our California Nursing Home abuse attorneys have experience handling cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, as well as nursing home and caretaker abuse. We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement.