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Florida Supreme Courts Rules that Arbitration Agreements in Nursing Home Cases are Unenforceable in Some Circumstances

For years, it has been the standard practice for nursing homes in Jacksonville to ask new residents to sign arbitration agreements when being admitted. Because of the volume of documents being signed at once, many residents sign such agreements without being made aware of the important rights they are waiving.

Arbitration agreements make seeking justice for nursing home abuse or negligence very difficult. For one, the process can be very expensive. Secondly, the ultimate decision in a case is made by arbitrators, one of which may be selected by the nursing home. A jury of peers has no involvement in a nursing home case. Arbitrators, who usually have practiced law in the field of Florida personal injury claims, have seen cases of tremendously tragic injuries or death. Because of this, they may be a little desensitized to injuries that, while very serious, may be less catastrophic.

Awards for pain and suffering in cases that are arbitrated can be much less than that awarded by a jury. Nursing homes are aware of this, hence, their request that such forms be signed. This also explains the typical lack of explanation as to what the form means along with such forms being buried in other paperwork.

Thankfully, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that nursing home arbitration agreements that limit remedies in conflict with those allowed by state law are unenforceable to the extent the agreement conflicts with state law. In circumstances where that conflict cannot be severed from the remainder of the arbitration agreement, the entire agreement is unenforceable. In the cases before the Court, the arbitration agreements included bans on punitive damages, and the bans were not severable from the remainder of the agreements, rendering the arbitration agreements completely unenforceable.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or negligence in the Jacksonville, Florida, area, please contact our Jacksonville nursing home lawyer for a free no-obligation consultation.