Proposed Law Takes Aim at Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits

Adult care facilities in Texas and across the country are required to abide by certain standards. Placing a loved one in a nursing home can be a difficult decision, and families should feel comfortable with the staff and accommodations. Unfortunately, elder abuse can and does take place. Fortunately, victims can take legal action, and proposed federal laws could make the process more beneficial for those who suffer wrongdoing.

Currently, nursing home facilities are permitted to have residents sign arbitration agreements. These contracts can require the resident to go into arbitration instead of going to court in the event that he or she chooses to file a claim against the institution. A new federal law would force nursing homes to not only fully explain the document to families, but also ensure that the signature on the document is not a requirement to admitting a resident.

One of the issues with mandatory arbitration is that it can be costly for the plaintiff. Texas Public Radio cited one case in which a woman pursued a wrongful death claim against a facility and had to split a $60,750 judges’ bill with the defendants. Opponents to the proposed regulation claim that arbitration is more efficient because it can expedite an award. However, one study determined that compensation that stems from arbitration hearings is as much as 35 percent lower than one that could be secured through going to court.

A senior vice president for the American Health Care Association notes that the organization will likely fight the law if it passes. Regardless of what new legislation may be, it is imperative that anyone who suspects physical, emotional or sexual abuse to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Source: Texas Public Radio, “Suing a Nursing Home Could Get Easier Under Proposed Federal Rules,” Ina Jaffe, Oct. 19, 2015


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