A recent op-ed “Florida law treats seniors worse than dogs” written by fellow Nursing Home Attorney Nathan Carter from Florida raises some important issues. At the core, it makes us ask ourselves – Do we really care about the elderly? After doing this work for several years now, sometimes I find myself answering that particular question, “No.”
For example, a recent federal law was passed by the House that limits the most egregious examples of nursing home abuse and neglect to damages of $250,000 in all states. Period. So, if your mom is raped in a nursing home because no one is screening the workers, her pain, suffering and humiliation is worth $250,000. This law was sent to the Senate, where it currently awaits a vote and could become law.
Then, there’s the predatory practice of pre-dispute forced arbitration. This is where a family, with no negotiating power, signs away the right to sue if their loved one is killed or seriously injured as the result of neglect or abuse in a nursing home. These constitutional rights are typically signed away with complicated language in long admission documents. Many times, people don’t even know what they’ve signed.
With forced arbitration, if mom or dad is killed or seriously injured, instead of going to court you go to private arbitration that you have to pay for, where the decisions are all made by an unaccountable arbitrator, the rules are questionable, and there is no right to appeal. No trial, no jury – no justice. While the Obama administration made forced arbitration illegal for nursing homes, the Trump administration reversed course, not only making it legal to do this, but there is now talk they will go even further and allow nursing home companies to make pre-dispute forced arbitration mandatory for admission. That is, you can’t go in the facility unless you agree to waive your right to sue.
Unfortunately, it’s my experience that Nathan’s article is spot on. Imagine if the congress sought to limit damages to $250,000 is if a neglected child was killed in a daycare center. People would be outraged. Why is it different for our elderly population, many of whom have been veterans, parents, and leaders – outstanding citizens that made countless contributions to their communities and country?
Maybe it took the unnecessary and inexcusable deaths of 8 vulnerable elderly citizens to make us ask these questions. Here at Davis & Brusca, we do care about the elderly. If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or group home, we will work to hold those responsible accountable. Call us today at 609-786-2540 or contact us online.