There are certain legal aspects that you should know about while trying to gain an admission to a nursing home.
Be wary of being forced to sign a contract
An admission agreement of a nursing home is essentially a contract. Usually, a “responsible party” would be allowed to sign the contract on behalf of the patient. And by doing this, the person doesn’t incur any sort of personal financial liability either.
But then, there might be some contracts with cunningly composed passages which impose certain legal obligations on the signor. What should be understood in this context is that though the law forbids demanding a personal guarantee of payment, it’s still legal for a person to guarantee payment, if he or she signs a document saying so.
Anyone who signs a contract – even if it’s on another’s behalf – is presumed to have signed the contract after having read and understood it.
Even in the cases where the signor didn’t fully understand the terms of the contract s/he signed, if s/he gets vindicated, it would usually be only after a long and expensive court trial.
The fact that someone has a bed in a nursing home means that s/he is admitted in the facility. A failure to sign the contract doesn’t necessarily mean s/he would be discharged because of it. But if you get pressured into signing, it’d be a salient idea to have an experienced attorney review the contract.
The danger is in pre-dispute arbitration agreements
Ultra-competitive as the business environment is in the twenty first century, more and more consumer contracts see the inclusion of compulsory pre-dispute arbitration agreements. This applies for nursing homes as well.
With an arbitration agreement, the resident gives up his/her right to a jury trial. Whatever disputes that may manifest themselves between the resident and the nursing home would be handled by arbitration – which is, essentially a business friendly manner of solving a problem.
Though there may be occasions when arbitration becomes advantageous to everyone involved, in the event of any grave issues – like someone dying of neglect in a nursing home, a public trial by jury would be the best course.
Simply put, if an admission agreement is presented to you that includes an arbitration clause, just don’t sign it. Rather, you should have an attorney review the contract.
On the other hand, if the only way to gain admission into your chosen nursing home is by signing the agreement with an arbitration clause, you could try to get the person in charge of admissions to review the relevant paperwork with the resident.
If the resident finds everything satisfactory, let them sign it. And if the resident isn’t actually competent to understand the contract due to a medical condition etc, the compulsory arbitration clause may get voided in court in the event of a legal dispute.
A dependable law firm
If you or your loved one is seeking admission at a nursing home and you feel that something is amiss with the contract, contact Makarem and Associates via email at [email protected] or phone at310.312.0299.