Friday, October 12, 2012

Arbitration Agreements

An arbitration agreement is easy to overlook. Tucked inside the packages of admissions documents in nursing homes, anxious seniors or their caregivers may sign everything that is in front of them while only giving it a slight glance.  

Signing one means that in the event of a problem that is not amicably solved, you will agree to bring the dispute before a professional arbitrator rather than file a lawsuit for something like wrongful death, according to an article published in The Washington Post. 

Consumer advocates express their concern for these agreements and believe that it is not in a family’s best interest to sign one.  

Arbitration hearings are not like court proceedings; they are instead conducted in private and the materials are usually protected by confidentiality rules. 

Also, if there is any amount awarded, it may be less if an arbitrator hears the case compared to a case going to trial.  

According to the article, the American Health Care Association doesn’t support requiring people to sign the agreements as a condition of admissions. There is a simple way to avoid being forced into arbitration, however: Just don’t sign it.  

If you find that you have signed the agreement, you are typically allowed to change your mind with a 30-day “opt-out” provision if you wish you hadn’t.  

If you want your rights to sue in the case of a wrongful death or negligence, for example, do not sign the arbitrary agreement. 

Snyder & Wenner, PC

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