This week, in Washington DC, a US Senate committee is scheduled to hear about a case involving the family of William Kurth, who sustained a number of pressure ulcers and fractured his leg and up while staying at a nursing home. Kurth’s family, however, was unable to sue for nursing home negligence because Kurth’s wife, Elaine, had agreed, when admitting her husband to the home, that all complaints would go through an arbitrator.
Elaine was reportedly on medication and under extreme duress when she signed papers giving Kurth, a stroke victim, permission to stay at a nursing home. Family members say that Kurth died because urine and excrement had not been cleaned off his bedsores for several days.
Kindred Healthcare says that the Kurth family says that the arbitration agreement was offered as an option and not a condition for admission into the nursing home.
The Senate panel is investigating the nursing homes’ use of binding arbitration agreements that gets patients to sign away their right to file a nursing home abuse or negligence lawsuit. Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, who is the chairman of the Senate Aging Committee expressed concern that many residents are not in the proper state to realize that they are signing away their right to sue.
Over the past five years, over 100 lawsuits have been filed to challenge these kinds of agreements.
While some lawmakers, trial lawyers, and consumer advocacy groups want to put in place legislation that makes these agreements unenforceable, others say that the lower costs for arbitration make it easier for patients with smaller cases to receive compensation.
In Maryland and Washington DC, our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers represent families with whose loved ones have suffered because of abuse or neglect at a nursing home or residential care facility.
Patients signing away right to sue nursing homes, AP, June 17, 2008
Nursing homes prefer arbitration over courts, Azcentral.com, June 17, 2008
Related Web Resource:
Arbitration Agreements: Why They Should Be Prohibited In Admission Agreement, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform
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