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Federal rules for litigation of nursing home abuse could change

Many Illinois residents have had to make the difficult decision to place a loved one in a nursing home. Making the decision is difficult in almost any case, but it isn't helped by the frequency of media stories regarding nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect and death.

People who have had issues with nursing homes and their lack of care for loved ones might soon have various safeguards that will provide more regulation with how nursing care facilities deal with arbitration agreements when new residents are admitted. Many of these facilities have the families of entering residents sign a form that requires there be binding arbitration of all civil claims.

The arbitrators charge for the work they do which can significantly diminish the amount of money a complainant can receive if they win. The government has been told by various factions who are advocating for change that the safeguards under consideration are not sufficient. These groups would like pre-dispute arbitration agreements to be banned. This is also a hot-button political issue with more than one-third of the members of the U.S. Senate advocating for change. The new regulations would force the facilities to explain the arbitration requirement to residents prior to their signing the agreement.

The facilities prefer the arbitration system and claim that it benefits the families as they will not have to wait for the award as they would in court. The amounts that are awarded are approximately 35 percent lower through arbitration. Errors in nursing homes and egregious acts of neglect and violence happen all too frequently. One tool that the victim and the families have to use is the legal process. If there is a case that will go to arbitration or court, one of the most important decisions the family will make is to speak to a legal professional as they move forward to be compensated.

Source: NPR.org, "Suing A Nursing Home Could Get Easier Under Proposed Federal Rules," Ina Jaffe, Oct. 19, 2015

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