Over the past few decades, there has been a drastic increase in the number of dual-income households. While this allows for both spouses to have a fulfilling career, it also frequently prevents adult children from caring for their aging parents, which is a full-time job in itself. Thus, along with the increase in dual-income households has come a corresponding increase in the need for nursing homes to care for older Americans.
While most Florida nursing homes are reputable establishments that strive to provide an adequate level of care to all residents, each month there are dozens of reports of Florida nursing home abuse and neglect. In the event of Florida nursing home abuse or neglect, the resident or their loved ones may pursue a claim for compensation against the nursing home.
Nursing home cases have much in common with other Florida personal injury cases in that a plaintiff must establish that the defendant nurse or administrator acted negligently or intentionally to cause their loved one’s injuries. However, Florida nursing home lawsuits often present an issue that does not frequently come up in other personal injury cases: arbitration.
Arbitration is an alternate means of resolving a dispute between parties. If the parties agree to arbitrate, then a neutral arbitrator will hear the case rather than a judge or jury. Many Florida nursing homes include an arbitration agreement in the pre-admission contract explaining that the parties agree to arbitrate any claims that may arise between the parties. If an arbitration agreement is enforceable, it can preclude a plaintiff from filing a case in court.
The Drawbacks of Arbitration
On its face, arbitration may not sound like a bad alternative; however, it presents a number of drawbacks to Florida nursing home residents and their families. For one, the procedural rules are often much stricter, providing less time to prepare a case and the availability of less discovery. Additionally, arbitrators may be less sympathetic to nursing home residents and their families than a jury would be. Finally, the decision of an arbitrator is usually final, meaning there is no right to an appeal. Nursing homes are aware of the above, and as a result, the average settlement offer in an arbitration case is significantly lower than that of a lawsuit which is filed in court.
Importantly, not all arbitration agreements are valid. Indeed, courts have held arbitration agreements invalid in several circumstances. For example, when the agreement unfairly favors the nursing home. Anyone who is considering filing a case against a Florida nursing home should consult with a dedicated Florida personal injury attorney to discuss their situation and potential remedies.
Do You Need an Attorney?
If you have a loved one in a Florida nursing home and you believe that they have been subject to abuse or neglect, contact the South Florida law office of Cecere Santana. At Cecere Santana, we represent injury victims in a wide range of claims, including Florida nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuits. We are also experienced in litigating arbitration agreements to preserve our clients’ right to access the court system. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation against negligent of abusive nursing home employees, call 800-753-5529 to schedule a free consultation today.
See Additional Blog Posts:
In Drunk Driving Accidents, Bar May Also be Responsible, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, October 9, 2018.
Three Killed in Florida Roadside Accident, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, published November 12, 2018