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Beware of forced arbitration clauses in nursing home abuse cases

Nursing homes and assisted living homes are an important part of society, as they are places where loved ones should be able to receive appropriate medical care without the strictures of hospitalization. In the past few years, facilities in Illinois have come under increased scrutiny due to nursing home abuse claims. One matter that has recently been examined is nursing homes' use of arbitration clauses that limit the ability of residents or their family members to pursue litigation in the event of harm.

Arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts typically require residents or their family to seek dispute resolution via private arbitration instead of filing a public lawsuit. This is beneficial to the facility in question because it helps to shield it from liability and/or bad press. On the other hand, this can provide limited legal recourse to patients and their families when they have been wronged.

According to many, the main issue with forced arbitration clauses is that people are pressured to sign away the right to object to circumstances before they even occur. Ordinarily, very few people would feel comfortable agreeing to this, but the decision and process of putting a loved one into a facility can be stressful and at times confusing. Many times, loved ones may find themselves agreeing to contract details under pressure that they would never have agreed to in a calmer environment.

Those in Illinois who feel pressured or forced to sign away their rights could benefit in seeking advice from an experienced attorney. An attorney with specific knowledge of elder care and nursing home contracts can guide residents and their families in the appropriate legal steps to take. In this way, a resident's rights will be protected, and the family will potentially have the ability to seek reparations if a loved one suffers from nursing home abuse.

Source: The New York Times, "Nursing Home Residents Still Vulnerable to Abuse", July 25, 2016

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