Some contractual agreements–between landlords and tenants, employer and employee contracts, or in a nursing home residential agreement–will include an arbitration agreement which is intended to determine how a case should be resolved in the event of a dispute. Mandatory arbitration clauses have been criticized for limiting a victims’ right to seek redress in a court. In some cases, an arbitration clause will also identify a predetermined arbiter, who already knows the contracting defendant. The results can be unfair and unfavorable to plaintiffs who have been wronged.
In a recent case, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed a woman to proceed with a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home, despite an arbitration agreement she signed on behalf of her sister. After her court case was denied at the state level, the plaintiff brought her case to the Supreme Court. According to reports, the plaintiff is allowed to proceed with the wrongful death case, even after signing an arbitration agreement and financial documents on behalf of her sister who resided at a care facility in Florence, South Carolina. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit after her sister died under the care of the nursing home.
The trial court and the state supreme court found in favor of the plaintiff under the state’s Adult Care Consent Act. The state Adult Care Consent Act allows legal guardians, or surrogates, to make decisions related to the health or financial well-being of an incapacitated individual. The courts ruled that because the contracts were not related to healthcare or finance, the plaintiff was not legally allowed to enter into the contracts, therefore the arbitration clause was not legally binding. After the trial and state supreme court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, the care facility appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The nursing home-defendant’s position was that the Federal Arbitration Act should preempt South Carolina’s law. The Supreme Court denied review of the case, giving the plaintiff the right to pursue her wrongful death claim in South Carolina Courts. According to reports, the highest court has refused to take on similar cases. Critics allege that providers are uncertain about whether agreements are enforceable, but others believe that plaintiffs and victims should not be bound by arbitration clauses.
Nursing home litigation can be complicated, especially when up against a formidable defendant, such as a large conglomerate nursing home business. When someone you love suffers an injury while under nursing home care, it is important to consult with an experienced advocate to review your case and claim. Our Asheville nursing home injury attorneys can effectively take on your case to protect your rights and recover just compensation. To avoid liability, any nursing home is likely to defend its actions, even if neglect or abuse resulted in the serious injury or death of a patient. An experienced advocate can review the facts of your case, preserve evidence, and ensure that all responsible individuals or entities are held accountable.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
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Teenager Killed at Carolina School Bus Stop, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, March 29, 2013