When you place a loved one in a nursing home, you usually have to sign a contract. Most of these contracts contain Arbitration Provisions. These require that arbitration of any complaint you have regarding care given to the loved one, including neglect and abuse. If the claim is arbitrated, you lose your right to a jury trial. The case will be arbitrated by a lawyer whom the nursing home agrees can be the arbitrator. This may result in an award significantly less than a jury verdict. It also may mean the loss of an award of attorney’s fees and costs which must be awarded to the plaintiff who prevails in a nursing home case.
Until recently, a plaintiff could successfully argue that an Arbitration Provision was unenforceable – that a plaintiff in a nursing home case was entitled to a jury trial. The Supreme Court of Illinois, in Carter v. SSC Odin Operating Company, LLC, 2012 IL 113204, however, decided that such a provision was enforceable.
So, what can you do? Look carefully at the contract. You can ask that this Arbitration Provision be removed. Be sure it is before you sign on behalf of your loved one.