Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) April 2, 2014 - Prior to admitting a relative to a nursing home, always carefully read the admission documentation.
“It’s a fact of life that many of us may need to admit a relative to a nursing facility at some point in the future. It’s not an easy decision, and with the negative press nursing care homes receive, it is a frightening prospect to relinquish care to someone who may abuse your loved one,” says Michael Smith, an Arkansas nursing home abuse lawyer.
A recent Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts may make a difference in how nursing home abuse cases are handled across the nation. “The decision gave back some patient rights being worn away by the nursing home industry and also restored some of the right to a trial by jury if a patient is abused,” Smith explains.
Part of the overall review of admission procedures into a nursing home facility was examined by the court as being a crucial part of understanding what is involved in admitting a patient. In many cases, patients and/or their legal representatives are given an enormous amount of paperwork to digest and sign, with little time to absorb the contents. It is critical that both parties, where possible, review and understand what they are signing.
“In some cases,” Smith points out, “documents signed may waive the patient’s constitutional rights. Some may also include an agreement to arbitrate. Signing this kind of an agreement may waive the resident’s right to a jury trial if they have been neglected or abused.” The U.S. Constitution, under the auspices of the Seventh Amendment, guarantees the right to a trial by jury and before anyone waives that right, it must be carefully considered.
“Jury trials are virtually a sacred right in the U.S,” adds Smith. If a nursing home resident agrees to arbitration, they are removing their right to a hearing by an impartial jury in the event that they experience nursing home abuse. “And it is precisely this reason alone why many elder care institutions want residents to sign an agreement to submit to arbitration.” Many of these facilities are owned by for-profit organizations, whose bottom line is earning money for stakeholders, not paying out jury awards as a result of a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
Families about to admit their loved one to such a facility need to take extra care in assessing all the required paperwork for admission. If one of the documents includes an agreement to submit to arbitration, immediately contact an experienced personal injury lawyer and discuss what it means with regard to the prospective resident’s legal rights.
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