Nursing Home Residents Appear Poised To Lose Their Day In Court

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “What information will be helpful for my nursing home negligence claim?”


It’s been bad news recently for those residing in nursing homes or with loved ones in nursing facilities. After a seeming victory last fall, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that a new rule would go into effect banning the use of arbitration agreements, there was an important setback earlier this summer. Residents and those working to change the broken system were disappointed to learn that CMS would not continue to push for implementation of the new rule banning arbitration agreements, but would instead craft a new measure, one that helps nursing facilities deny residents and their loved ones access to the court system.


Hospital-Hallway-Charlotte-Mooresville-Injury-Lawyer-300x225The rule aimed at eliminating the arbitration language that prevents residents and their family members from filing lawsuits was challenged by the nursing home industry. A judge issued an injunction on the rule, buying enough time for the industry to lobby for changes. The lobbying worked and CMS decided that it would rescind the previous rule, issuing a watered-down version instead. The new proposal says that arbitration language is allowed to remain in nursing home contracts, but it must be written in plain language.


According to CMS, the burden of the proposed regulations on nursing facilities was too great. The decision was made that rather than protecting seniors and their loved ones, CMS would look after nursing homes and their bottom lines. CMS agreed with the nursing home industry that patients should be allowed to “voluntarily” enter into arbitration agreements. CMS says it believes arbitration is cheaper and more efficient than the court system and thus provides benefits to all the parties involved.


Even more galling, CMS justified its decision by claiming it was looking out for residents. CMS noted that lawsuits can be adversarial and that by allowing litigation it would have an impact on residents who remain in the facility during the course of the lawsuit. Arbitration, on the other hand, is viewed as less hostile and thus, better for the residents.


Unfortunately, the reality is that the rule is a huge defeat for consumers and a major win for nursing homes. Now that arbitration language will be allowed to remain in nursing home agreements, residents and their families will continue to find that after an accident or injury has occurred, there is little recourse but to take your case to arbitration. This means that cases are resolved in secret, without the benefit of a judge or jury presiding over the matter. Decisions can be slanted in favor of corporations and given the restrictive language in these arbitration agreements, no appeal is possible. The CMS decision allows nursing homes to continue denying justice to many Americans and their families injured due to neglect and abuse at the hands of nursing home staff.


If you or someone close to you has been injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today who can help you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation, call at 704-370-2828 or click here for additional resources.


About the Author:

Matt Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, personal injury and wrongful death claims.

Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.





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