Despite recent efforts by the Obama administration to ban such agreements, Nursing homes are continuing to attempt to obtain arbitration agreements taking away the rights of elder and disabled patients and their loved ones as part of admissions.
Under Colorado law, nursing homes cannot require you to sign an arbitration agreement.
Arbitration agreements in nursing homes can deal a terrible blow to your rights in the event of abuse or neglect and it is important to be educated about your rights. At the door, nursing homes encourage and too often mislead or even pressure elderly people and family representatives into signing arbitration agreements. This can be a stressful time for you and your family. Often you will be under pressure from a hospital to find appropriate placement for your loved one and the nursing home will hand you a stack of papers and tell you that you have to sign all of them for your loved one to be admitted. Make sure to read the documents you are handed and do not sign the arbitration agreement without advice.
If a loved one is abused or neglected, families who want to sue then face serious arguments from the facilities that such an agreement binds the children in a wrongful death case even though they did not sign it or even know it was signed.
While sometimes as lawyers we defeat such arguments, it is far better not to face these issues. If arbitration is required, both scandalous care and devastating negligence cases are shoved behind closed doors where the world is not allowed to see or learn about them. Facilities greatly prefer to hide in the shroud of secrecy provided by arbitration proceedings.
Arbitrations are also expensive for the claimants and can greatly inhibit full investigation of your case. In a lawsuit, the family of a person neglected or abused has rights to discover information from the facility. Many of these rights, like the right to take depositions, are often taken away or severely limited in arbitrations. Worse, in many arbitrations, the family isn’t even allowed to access the critical case evidence and facilities can much more easily hide what happened.
If you or your elder parent has just signed one of these arbitration agreements there may still be time to rescind. Under Colorado Law, you have 90 days to rescind (cancel) the agreement. This can be done with a letter to the facility managers, like the nursing home Administrator. If you have signed an arbitration agreement and there is still time to rescind, give us a call and we will help you rescind it, at no charge, in order to protect your rights.
The most important thing to know is that your elder or disabled loved one cannot be denied admission to a nursing home for refusing to sign. Please be aware that these agreements cause cases to be decided by commercial lawyers to the exclusion of the collective conscience of the community as expressed by jurors. Do not lightly let these agreements be signed. They can greatly limit your rights and those of your parents.
Note: In Colorado, assisted living facilities sometimes assert that they are not health care facilities and that different laws apply to them. They may therefore tell you they can require you to sign an arbitration agreement and refuse to admit you or a loved one without one. This is not a totally settled area of law. If you are being told that you must sign such an agreement for admission to an assisted living facility, be sure to see what rights you are giving up. If an assisted living facility successfully takes the position that they can condition admission on these agreements, they may risk losing some of the protections nursing homes have in litigation, including being subjected to higher damages limits -- although again this area is not totally settled.