Equal access to the court system is one of our country’s most fundamental rights. Regardless of a person’s background or economic status, the United States Constitution guarantees everyone’s right use the courts to resolve disputes among parties. However, that right, like many others, can be waived.
Chances are, anyone who has dealt with a claim against a Florida nursing home is familiar with the concept of arbitration. Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution outside the traditional court system, in which a private arbitrator hears the case and renders a decision. Generally speaking, those parties who engage in frequent litigation prefer arbitration because it offers a quicker, cheaper, and confidential way to handle cases.
Arbitration, however, can present some potentially serious problems for individual litigants, including Florida nursing home residents and their families. This is because the nursing home usually creates the “rules of the game,” so to speak. For example, a nursing home can include clauses in an arbitration agreement specifying which state’s law applies, procedural deadlines, and even which arbitrator will hear the case. Thus, normally it is in a nursing home resident’s best interest to avoid arbitration, if possible.