As reported by The Tribune-Review, a new federal rule gives more protection to nursing-home residents and their families who want to sue nursing homes because they were abused or neglected. The article quotes Robert Peirce & Associates attorney Bob Daley, who has been a tireless advocate for better protection for nursing home patients.
In the past, many nursing homes required new patients to sign an arbitration agreement, which takes away patients' rights to sue the nursing home in court for negligence or abuse. Instead, any disputes between patients and the nursing home will be settled out of court by a neutral mediator. If patients and their families feel that the issue has not been resolved fairly, there's nothing they can do about it.
Typically, this process works out in favor of the nursing homes, and can save them a lot of money. In addition, because arbitration takes place privately, it enables nursing homes to hide chronic issues of abuse and neglect from the public.
The attorneys at Robert Peirce & Associates have long opposed the predatory practice of requiring patients to waive their right to a jury trial upon admission to a nursing home. We understand that entering a nursing home is often an emotional process for patients and their families, and typically occurs when a patient is mentally and/or physically unwell. Furthermore, most patients and their families are dealing with stacks of paperwork and many other medical, financial and emotional issues.
During a time of such turmoil, patients and their guardians often sign the agreements without fully understanding that they are signing away a constitutional right. Or even if they do understand that they are giving up their rights, they feel forced to sign anyway because they need medical care in the nursing home.
The new federal rule will stop nursing homes from taking advantage of new patients by forcing them to sign the agreements.