Those who have placed an elderly loved one in a nursing home know that the process can seem very formal. Most significantly, individuals are often asked to sign a contract. While these agreements spell out the services that will be provided and the payments to be made for such services, there may be other clauses hidden deep in the text that could have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to take legal action against a negligent nursing home.

Some nursing homes are implementing arbitration clauses into their contracts. But what is arbitration? Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution that seeks to settle matters without the assistance of a court of law. In place of litigation, arbitration allows individuals to bring their dispute before one or more arbitrators, who are neutral third parties who will render a decision in the matter. The arbitration process itself is much like litigation, in that evidence is presented and witnesses are heard, but there are some significant differences.

First is the fact that arbitration that is agreed to unknowingly could mean that an individual has limited say in the selection of arbitrators. Also, those who are unfamiliar with arbitration will need to familiarize themselves with the rules of the type of arbitration to which they agreed. Filing timelines and the selection of arbitrators could be spelled out in a contract that an individual agreed to without really reading.

Although arbitration can be different, it can also prove beneficial to those who have experienced nursing home neglect. It may be important for people in this unfortunate situation to learn more about alternative dispute resolution and how it could play into one’s claim for damages.

Source: FindLaw, “What is Arbitration?” accessed on May 20, 2016