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Nursing home neglect justice is undermined by arbitration clauses

Discovering that a loved one has been harmed while in the care of a nursing home can be devastating, and most families are determined to help their loved ones achieve justice for their injuries. People in California are often surprised when they are told that arbitration is their only option. In the face of overwhelming nursing home neglect and abuse, some might be wondering how these facilities are able to lowball victims and their families by insisting upon arbitration rather than a lawsuit.

Admission contracts for residential facilities are notoriously long, and in some instances can even be upwards of 70 pages or more. When it comes time to sign these papers most soon-to-be residents or their families are already under a great deal of stress and have trouble taking in everything that they are signing. What most people fail to notice is the arbitration clause -- a single clause in dozens upon dozens of pages that require victims of abuse and neglect to arbitrate rather than sue.

While advocates of the elderly have been focused on the arbitration clause for some time, its use in contracts recently made national headlines with the Wells Fargo scandal. The bank created millions of fake accounts with existing customers' credentials, causing those customers to take hits to their credit scores while also charging them fees for the fake accounts. When the victims went to sue, they learned that their contracts with the bank required that they arbitrate in a process that would be overseen by mediators chosen by the company.

When told that they agreed to an arbitration clause after signing a contract, victims of nursing home neglect often feel disheartened. In many instances, California families are still able to successfully achieve compensation on behalf of their loved ones. This legal recourse is typically applied to related medical bills and pain and suffering.

Source: newrepublic.com, "What Nursing Homes Have in Common With Wells Fargo", David Dayen, Sept. 28, 2016

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