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Arbitration changes nursing home abuse cases

Residential senior living is a comfortable and efficient choice for millions of senior Floridians, and many nursing homes provide a place to live and a place to work for many across Florida. These institutions require fair oversight and the expectation of safety, because "our loved ones are there and we need to hold nursing homes accountable."

Those are the words of an elder care activist who lost her grandmother in a nursing home last year. The elderly Floridian presented with a large sore, which was complicated by an infection that proved fatal. Her family is currently suing the nursing home for neglect.

Victims of nursing home mistreatment, as well as their families have the right to sue people and institutions involved in elder abuse or neglect. A new rule proposed by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services would move most of these cases to arbitration rather than a court of law.

Experts in the law surrounding elder abuse and neglect claim that forced arbitration infringes on victims' rights to sue and intrinsically benefits the nursing-home industry. Although arbitration clauses are often standard in nursing home residence contracts, "they are almost never explained and the agreement is never shown to the family," according to a Florida nursing home abuse lawyer.

Families can treat the arbitration clause as an option. "I tell everybody to scratch out the arbitration agreement," the lawyer continued. "Tell [the nursing home] you object to it." Be sure to protect yourself and your loved ones when reviewing binding agreements with residence communities and caretakers.

Source: First Coast News, "Nursing home advocates and family members in favor of lawsuit against forced arbitration," Kenneth Amaro, Aug. 07, 2017

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