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States Urge Administration to Protect Victims' Rights to Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits

States Urge Administration to Protect Victims' Rights to Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits

Victims rightsAttorneys General for the District of Columbia and 16 states are urging the federal government to protect victims’ rights to take civil legal action following alleged neglect, abuse, and sexual assault in nursing homes. Their efforts come in response to a proposal that would reverse a new rule banning nursing homes from including language in contracts requiring disputes to be handled through arbitration, rather than a court.

The new rule, which was finalized by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) last year, directly bans the practice of forcing patients and families into private arbitration – a form of dispute resolution that keeps nursing home abuse charges out of the public court system and weakens residents’ legal leverage. By using arbitration, corporations win far more often in front of private arbitrators who make money handling these cases, and capitalize on the fact that some people cannot afford to pay for a private judicial system. Prior to the rule, mandatory arbitration clauses could be hidden in the fine print of nursing home contracts, with residents and families who sign them being largely unaware of what arbitration entails.

A new proposed rule made by CMS in June would nearly eliminate the existing ban on mandatory arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts. It’s only provision in the absence of the ban would call for arbitration clauses to be made in “plain language” and to be explained to residents who acknowledge their understanding.

While the proposed changes are said to “strengthen” transparency in the arbitration process, advocates have condemned the change, arguing that such a reversal would only hurt residents of nursing facilities during the most vulnerable time in their lives. They are making further efforts to prevent the proposed rule from taking effect.

Fighting Back Against a Deterioration of Victims’ Rights

The abrupt about-face is due in part to new policies and approaches under the current presidential administration that favor big business – the same big businesses and corporations that prioritize profits over people. The recent proposal to roll back rules pertaining to mandatory arbitration clauses in nursing home abuse cases is only one of many similar efforts that deteriorate victims’ rights.

Since January, there have been many examples of anti-regulatory initiatives. These include tort reform bills being considered by Congress that would cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases and greatly limit the scope of class action lawsuits, one of the only avenues victims have for holding corporations accountable. The transportation sector has also seen significant efforts from the trucking industry, which looks to roll back regulations on weight limits, hours of service rules, and more. These efforts are fueled by special interest groups that have a financial stake in limiting lawsuits and eliminating burdensome regulations. While they flood money into our politics in hopes of empowering corporations, they do so at the expense of public safety and the depreciation of the civil justice system.

As a law firm that represents injured victims and families in cases often defended against by large corporations and insurance companies, Biren Law Group is passionate about following the efforts of lawmakers, lobbyists, and corporate powers whose profit-driven agendas jeopardize public safety and victims’ rights. We have seen first-hand how negligence can create profound losses in victims’ lives, and how those victims and families can be further victimized when their rights in our civil justice system are compromised by corporations.

By staying abreast of these issues and sharing them on our blog, we hope that others will get involved in making their voices heard. You can learn more about nursing home arbitration and other civil justice issues by visiting www.takejusticeback.com, or by contacting a member of our team to discuss a potential case.

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