Early in the history of this nation, disputes were often resolved in barbaric fashion. An individual might challenge someone who had grieved him to a duel which could occasionally result in injury or death. In 1804, the Vice President of the United States killed Founding Father Alexander Hamilton in one of these duels after accusing him of slander. But when the Founders drafted the Constitution, they incorporated an essential doctrine of law that would provide a more civilized and fair way of settling such complaints. That method was the jury trial, and every Americans’ right to a trial is enshrined in the Seventh Amendment of United States Constitution. But today that right is being threatened by manipulative practices of corporations who want to play by different rules.
Arbitration agreements are everywhere. You can find them in credit card agreements, insurance policies, or those dreaded privacy policies that pop up when you install software. But one place you may not expect to see them is in admissions paperwork for a nursing home or assisted living facility. These documents typically take the form of a several pages but may be as small as a clause or line in a contract. No matter their size, they can have a profound impact on your ability to seek legal recourse when you have been wronged.
Corporations tend to favor arbitration because it essentially allows them to opt out of the legal system. When they are negligent and cause injury or death, they are not required to answer to a judge or jury in a courtroom. Instead, they are allowed to make their case in front of an arbitrator who often provides results which are much friendlier to corporate parties.
Arbitrators are supposed to be impartial. However, that is not always the case. Arbitration agreements often require specific arbitration firms to handle any arbitration, and according to a New York Times report on the practice, many times these firms have relationships with potential defendants that stretch the definition of an ethical grey area. If an arbitration firm does not provide satisfactory rulings for corporations, the company can threaten to take their business elsewhere.
Even more disturbing, the arbitrator’s final decisions are often kept secret and the rulings are not appealable. A plaintiff will not be able to challenge an arbitrators ruling if another arbitrator or court has ruled differently on a similar claim. There are horror stories of plaintiffs left footing the legal bills of large corporations, a fact that may leave the injured terrified of pursuing justice.
If you or your loved one has been injured or wronged by a nursing home or health care provider and you believe an arbitration agreement was signed, please call Jehl Law Group immediately. Typically, arbitration agreements have a window for opting out, but even if that window has closed, we will work tirelessly to nullify the arbitration agreement and have your claim heard before an impartial jury. It is our goal to seek justice for you and your loved one.