The decision to place a loved one into a nursing home can be a difficult one, often made from necessity and sometimes under duress. Often, though not always, the nursing home will enter into a contract with the resident or family members which states the rights and responsibilities of each party. Ostensibly, this is as much for the resident’s protection as the facilities. It may, however, also make it difficult or impossible to sue the nursing home for negligence that causes harm to your loved one.
Breach of Contract
A contract between a nursing home and a resident and/or the resident’s family should set forth clearly exactly what services the nursing home will provide and for what price. Failure to live up to these contractual obligations in performing the agreed-upon services could result in a breach of contract. If that is the case, you and/or your loved one may be able to file a civil suit against the nursing home.
It is important to read the contract and understand what it says. Some contracts only require the home to provide “reasonably necessary” services to residents. This does not mean that you cannot sue, but it does mean that you need to be able to demonstrate why the services were both necessary and reasonable.
Binding Arbitration Clauses
You and/or your loved one should read the contract carefully before signing and determine whether it has a binding arbitration clause. If it does, that means that even in cases of abuse, neglect, or wrongful death, you cannot bring a lawsuit against the facility. Instead, you have to submit to arbitration to negotiate the matter before an impartial third party.
In the past, nursing homes often required a binding arbitration clause as a condition of admission to the facility. As of September 2019, however, a new rule is in effect that prohibits mandatory binding arbitration clauses such as these. However, the rule still allows nursing homes and residents to enter into binding arbitration clauses voluntarily. If you and/or your loved one want to retain your right to sue, it is important that you avoid entering into an agreement that includes a binding arbitration clause.
Duty of Care
In rare instances, a nursing home may not require the resident to enter into a contract. What are your legal rights in that scenario? It may still be possible to bring a civil suit against the facility. In this case, it becomes necessary to demonstrate that the facility owed a duty of care to the resident and that, by its actions or inactions, it failed to live up to that duty.
Regardless of whether or not a contract exists, holding a nursing home responsible for negligence can be a complicated matter. A nursing home neglect lawyer can help illuminate your individual situation. Contact a law office to arrange a consultation.