When you are being admitted to a nursing home, you will be asked to sign a lot of papers. Some are necessary for admission. For example, you must sign a “Standard Admission Agreement.” This agreement is mandated by the State and may not be altered by the nursing home.
Nevertheless, as with all papers presented to you by the nursing home during the admission process or otherwise, you should read it carefully and make sure you understand it before signing. Take your time and do not allow yourself to be hurried.
During the admission process (or possibly even later), the nursing home may present you with a paper called an “Arbitration Agreement.” The Arbitration Agreement may be buried in a stack of papers and you may have to look carefully for it.
You should NEVER sign an Arbitration Agreement. The law provides that agreement to arbitration may NOT be a “precondition for medical treatment or for admission” to a nursing home. (Health & Safety Code section 1599.81(a)). If you have signed an Arbitration Agreement, you may be able to revoke it. However, it is best simply not to sign it.
If you have read our previous posts, you will know the steps your loved ones can take to make your stay in a nursing home safer and more comfortable. However, even though they do everything they can, you might be harmed in a nursing home and wish to seek compensation.
If there is a valid Arbitration Agreement, the courthouse will be closed to you and you simply cannot successfully sue. You will be relegated to arbitration, which is a poor substitute for going to court. You will be at the mercy of an arbitrator who may or may not be fair and unbiased. Your ability to “discover” your case, in other words to seek out full and complete information concerning the nursing home and your injury, may be limited. You will CERTAINLY be denied your constitutional right to a jury trial.
Since the nursing home cannot deny you admission for refusal to sign an Arbitration Agreement and since an Arbitration Agreement is NEVER in your interest, you should simply decline to sign one.
If you have questions about admission to a nursing home or Arbitration Agreements, or if you or someone you love has been hurt in a nursing home, give us a call. We can help.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a nursing home or other care facility, contact the Law Office of David M. Jamieson (209) 521-1269. We can help and *consultations are always free*.