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Arbitration clauses are bad news for nursing home neglect victims

Nursing homes serve an important role in the love and care of the elderly community in Pennsylvania. Most families are poorly equipped to care for aging loved ones, making nursing homes and other long-term residential facilities a necessity. Unfortunately, these necessary facilities are often plagued by nursing home neglect and abuse, and victims sometimes face an uphill battle when seeking justice.

By now most people are already familiar with the Wells Fargo scandal, in which millions of fake accounts were created using the credentials of real customers who were then charged related fees. The affected customers were unable to sue the company because of the arbitration clause placed in the contracts related to the accounts they had opened. The clause required that victims enter arbitration with the company rather than pursuing justice through the legal system, with mediators chosen by Wells Fargo.

So what does this have to do with the neglect going on behind the closed doors of nursing homes? The vast majority of nursing home facilities have arbitration clauses within the contracts that are signed upon admission. However, it is often difficult -- if not impossible -- for senior citizens or their families to actually locate these clauses, as the contracts can hit upwards of 70 pages long.

Most people in Pennsylvania would agree that an individual should not have to hold some type of advanced law degree in order to simply understand the contract that he or she is signing. Still, this is happening on a daily basis to the over 1.3 million people in America who are in the care of a nursing home. Advocates of the elderly are currently pushing for legislation that will decrease the use of arbitration causes, as it can make it difficult for victims of nursing home neglect to achieve the justice they deserve. However, many families are undeterred by these clauses, and are able to successfully navigate claims on behalf of their injured loved ones.

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

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