Be Careful What You Sign - Hidden Mandatory Arbitration Requirements May Strip Away Your Rights
When you sign admission papers for your loved one -- or when she signs them herself -- READ THEM CAREFULLY. Many nursing homes have put mandatory arbitration requirements into their admissions agreements. Arbitrations benefit nursing homes, to the great detriment of their residents.
Mandatory arbitration clauses strip your loved one of her Constitutional right to bring a legal action against the nursing home if it negligently injures her. Most people who sign admissions agreements in haste, when the patient is entering the facility, and don't read every provision in the agreement. Also, of course, many people have no idea what arbitration is.
Although many states have found that pre-event arbitration clauses are offensive and unenforceable. That is, if a person is going to give us a Constitutional right, she ought to know just what it is she is giving up -- which cannot be known before an injury occurs. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has recently upheld just such an arbitration clause in a nursing home admissions agreement.
If you have a Durable Power of Attorney for your elderly loved one, ask your lawyer to add this language to it: My attorney-in-fact shall not have the power to contract, agree to, consent to, or otherwise enter into any arbitration agreement on behalf of the principal. This language prohibits the agent from being duped into signing an admissions agreement that has hidden mandatory arbitration language.
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