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Why Are Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements So Bad?

What are they anyway?

If you agree to an arbitration to settle a nursing home case you are giving up the right to a trial by jury and likely the right obtain critical information you need for your case.

In our nursing home abuse and injury cases, we often see nursing home residents or their loved ones sign arbitration agreements during the admission process and without understanding what they are signing.  Our experience is that often the nursing home does not explain what the document means and insists upon obtaining the signature prior to admission.

The process of admitting a loved one to a nursing home is almost always very emotional. Residents are sick and usually do not want to leave their homes.  Relatives often have feelings of guilt. When emotions run high, almost no one pays attention to the fine print of an arbitration agreement.

Arbitration is very beneficial to the nursing home because the resident signs away his or her rights to access the courts and to have their story heard by a jury of their peers. Instead, decisions about the case are made by people who can be predisposed to making decisions favorable to the nursing home.

In arbitration, usually three lawyers are selected to act as the judge and the jury.  Lawyers who see cases like this on a daily basis are far less likely than juries to react empathetically to the stories of abuse and neglect that we often hear. Instead they base their opinions of case value on medical bills and other economic damages.

Additionally arbitration rules usually drastically limit access to information that is critical to a nursing home resident’s case.

At Zimmet & Zimmet we always review arbitration agreements to determine whether they are valid.  Some agreements can be thrown out entirely. Some clauses can be held invalid. But some agreements are upheld and the resident is forced to submit the case to an arbitration panel instead of a jury.

If you or a loved one have been the victim of abuse or neglect at a nursing home or assisted living facility ask us about the complex and frequently changing law of arbitration agreements.

 

Zimmet & Zimmet, nursing home abuse lawyers

Personal Attention & the Time to Get It Right

Tips for Choosing a Nursing Home

Don’t Choose One with a Wasting Liability Policy. What’s That?

nursing homeOur clients often ask us how they should go about selecting a nursing home. At Zimmet & Zimmet, we are local Daytona Beach nursing home injury attorneys who represent people for injuries and wrongful death as a result of nursing home negligence and abuse.    

While there are many factors to consider, the nursing home’s liability insurance is an important factor people may not be aware of. If a nursing home buys a liability policy with unreasonably small limits it is likely that they are counting on a complicated structure of shell companies to avoid paying for the injuries and deaths they cause. 

When a nursing home believes that it won’t have to pay for patient injuries it causes, we believe it is far more likely to create a corporate culture that allows abuse and neglect.  

If a nursing home thinks it won’t have to pay for patient injuries, why does it buy insurance at all?   The Florida legislature passed a law that requires nursing homes to carry liability insurance. The catch is that the law does not require any minimum amount.  

Other states do require minimum coverages. For example, Pennsylvania requires nursing homes to carry at least $1 million dollars in liability insurance coverage. New Jersey requires $500,000.

We often see nursing homes buying a type of policy called a “wasting policy.”  A wasting policy has a limit that is reduced by defense costs.  These policies often have inadequate limits of $50,000. 

Although liability policies should pay patients for injuries caused by the nursing home these wasting policies might only end up paying for an attorney to defend the nursing home.

They are also used to pressure the injured patient into settling a lawsuit for less than the case is worth.   When the policy limit is only $50,000 and the nursing home’s attorney will bill over $50,000 in fees in less than six months thereby reducing the policy limit to zero, nursing homes often are successful in pressuring injured people to accept much less than their case is worth.   

We recommend that in choosing a nursing home you ask to see the liability policy. If it is a wasting policy your loved one is likely to be without significant protection if injured by the nursing home.

 

Zimmet & Zimmet, representing nursing home patients

Personal Attention and the Time to Get It Right

An Important Tip for Choosing a Nursing Home for your Loved One

Real insurance or fake insurance?

 

nursing homeChoosing a nursing home for a loved one in Florida is a difficult decision at best.   Our clients often ask us for tips on how to choose. 

Here is a tip you may not have thought of.  Ask for a copy of the nursing home’s liability insurance policy and declaration page. 

While at first you might think insurance is not related to whether a nursing home will provide good care, it actually is an important factor to consider. 

Many, if not most, nursing homes in Florida  are businesses operating for profit.  If the employee payroll is small and the patient population is large, profits are higher.   

The problem with this business model is that when there aren’t enough employees to pay attention to the patients, mistakes are made and patients are ignored.  When patients are neglected they can end up with broken bones and infections can go untreated.   

Usually in Florida, a company buys insurance with limits sufficient  to protect its customers and itself. Nursing homes should be no different and should buy sufficient insurance to protect its patients who through the nursing home’s negligence break a bone or even die due to an infection being left inadequately treated. 

Many nursing homes now take a different approach. Instead of buying insurance to pay for the damage they cause, some nursing homes have used the laws of Florida to create many corporations in an attempt to make it difficult to collect any legal judgments against them.

If the business plan is to become “judgment proof ” the nursing home may not buy liability insurance with sufficient limits to protect its patients. These nursing homes are not worried about having to pay for a legal judgment.   

As local Daytona Beach lawyers representing patients against nursing homes, when we see this type of business model it is often accompanied by a corporate attitude that can result in patients getting entirely inadequate care.   

When you are choosing a nursing home ask to see the liability policy and declarations page. If the total amount payable by the insurance company for a claim is less than $100,000 it is reasonable to be concerned about how the nursing home will protect your loved one.

 

Zimmet & Zimmet

Daytona Beach Injury and Accident Lawyers

Personal Attention and the Time to Get It Right

 

 


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