Arbitration Clauses Hidden In Nursing Home Contracts
Georgia Nursing Home Injury Lawyers Caution Georgia Residents About Arbitration Clauses Hidden In Nursing Home Contracts
Arbitration Clauses Seek to Deprive Injured Parties and Their Families of Their Day In Court
Georgia law allows parties to agree to send legal disputes to arbitration. Alternative dispute resolution procedures such as arbitration and mediation play a significant role in enabling litigants in Georgia to pursuing legal claims without having to wait for their case to get to trial. A case can take years to progress from inception to judgment after trial in Georgia’s busy and crowded courts. By contrast, alternative dispute resolution is a way to resolve the case without the need for a trial.
Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law, fight hard to hold nursing homes responsible for the injuries, damage, and heartache they cause when an elderly person suffers neglect or abuse. Elder abuse is all too prominent in today’s society. Nursing home owners and administrators are acutely aware of the problem.
Not every case is fit for arbitration or mediation. Some grievances should be aired in public, before a judge and jury in an open courtroom. Nursing home injury and premature death cases in Georgia should be heard in open court. Instead, relaxation of the Medicare regulations governing nursing homes has provided nursing homes with the opportunity to insert arbitration clauses into their residential contracts.
Arbitration clauses give nursing homes an unfair advantage over their prospective residents. Many nursing home residential applicants are elderly and must live in a nursing home because they cannot live alone. Many people who need nursing home services are very ill or are battling physical limitations or even cognitive limitations as well. They are certainly unable to appreciate the legal significance of entering into a binding legal agreement that takes away their right as a Georgia resident to seek redress of wrongs in our courts. In short, the nursing homes are demanding that you waive your rights to a fair trial guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.
When a person cannot care for his or herself, younger family members may step into the elder’s shoes and bind them to contracts. The legal document known as a “Power of Attorney” grants the authority to bind another to legal obligations as if the principle, or the person granting the authority, entered into the agreement personally. Most often, the person acting as Power of Attorney is a relative of the applicant. A Power of Attorney could be in an emotionally fragile state because he or she must sign papers essentially condemning their loved one to live out the remainder of their days (in many cases) in a foreign and hospital-like setting. A Power of Attorney could easily misread the document if he or she read it at all. In the end, the family might not have a choice.
Powers of Attorney may be general or limited. General Powers of Attorney grant the agent permission to act in the legal stead of the principal in all matters. Limited, or Special Powers of Attorney restrict the agent’s ability to bind the principal to those matters specifically referenced in the document. Thus, a person who holds a General Power of Attorney for an older adult might have the legal authority to enter into a residential nursing home contract and bind the principal to all clauses in the contract including an arbitration clause. A Limited Power of Attorney may or may not grant that authority, depending on the language of the document.
Health care proxies are different from powers of attorney. Health care proxies grant authority to the agent to make medical decisions for the principal if the principal cannot make those decisions any longer due to physical or mental incapacity. As such, the health care proxy or health care agent can bind the principal only for health care decisions. A person exercising the authority given to him or her in a health care proxy does not have the legal authority to bind the principal to the terms included in a nursing home residential contract.
The difference in whether you and your family must litigate your claim through a neutral arbitrator or in a court of law depends on various factors. No matter what venue, Montlick & Associates’ nursing home injury lawyers will represent our clients' legal interests passionately while seeking justice for you and your loved ones.
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If you have been injured in any type of accident caused by someone else's negligence, call Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law for your free consultation today. Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over 38 years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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Coleman v. UNITED HEALTH SERVICES, Ga: Court of Appeals 2018
UNITED HEALTH SERVICES OF GA. v. Alexander, 802 SE 2d 314 - Ga: Court of Appeals 2017