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According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, more and more nursing home residents are being forced to give up their rights to a jury trial when they sign agreements admitting them to nursing homes. Many nursing home admission agreements now include “arbitration” clauses in which residents waive their right to jury trial against the nursing home in the event they are abused, neglected or victimized by nursing malpractice or some other medical mistake.
The Wall Street Journal says the nursing home companies are benefiting from such agreements. The cost of settling cases has begun dropping, even as claims of neglect, abuse and poor treatment increase. According to a study done last year, the cost to these companies dropped by more than 35% per case from 1999 to 2006. The arbitration approach is not limited to the nursing home industry. Many industries are beginning to write arbitration clauses into their boilerplate contracts in order to cut litigation costs and avoid the judgment of juries.
Be sure you know what you’re signing when admitting a relative to a nursing home. Buried in the admission agreement may be an arbitration clause that gives up your loved one’s rights, including the right to a jury trial, even if they are recklessly abused or neglected in the nursing home.