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Nursing Home Contracts

Elder Law Attorney Helping Aging Individuals and Their Families in Nashville

When an elderly person enters a nursing home, they must usually sign a contract. In some cases, a family member must sign the contract. The contract may include specific rights, in addition to those already available under federal and state laws. However, it may also limit rights, such as by requiring arbitration of any disputes. If you are concerned about signing a nursing home contract or worried about potential abuse or neglect of a family member in Davidson or Williamson County, you should consult Nashville elder law attorney Randy Ratliff.

Nursing Home Contracts

A nursing home contract is very important, particularly in case of a problem down the road, such as suspected nursing home abuse or negligence. Most family members get involved in selecting a long-term care facility. However, they or the would-be resident may sign the paperwork without reading it. They may simply be relieved to find a nursing home and assume that the nursing home will do its job. However, nursing homes are often understaffed, and negligence is common. In some cases, the negligence causes serious injuries or the wrongful death of the resident.

The nursing home usually drafts the contract with the help of an experienced attorney, and in many cases, nursing home contracts limit and prescribe the remedies of the resident in case the nursing home makes a mistake that infringes on the rights of your family member. Often, in Tennessee, there is an arbitration clause inside the nursing home contract. In many cases, these clauses are valid, enforceable, and irrevocable. The exception is when there are grounds for revocation of the contract.

This matters because an arbitration agreement requires you to submit your claim, even a very serious claim, to an arbitrator, rather than to a court of law. In most cases, arbitration favors the party that has more power and more information about what happened. Discovery may be limited, which means that you may not be able to prove your case, even if evidence does exist to suggest that the nursing home was negligent or intentionally abusive. The arbitrator may not be a judge, and the damages may be capped under the agreement.

However, the Tennessee Department of Health and Human Services has put forward regulations prohibiting these types of arbitration clauses. The regulations will not affect arbitration agreements signed before November 28, 2016, but they do affect contracts going forward. However, nursing homes may continue to try to put these clauses into their contracts. It is still worth retaining an attorney to review the contract, or to help you negotiate a new contract if you signed a contract prior to November 28, 2016.

In some cases, nursing home litigation arising out of harm to a resident is based on a breach of contract. A contract may list a set of rights and services to be provided, including rehabilitative, custodial, and specialized medical care tailored toward specific problems like dementia. It may also enumerate other recreational or social services. A failure to provide services that have been required under the contract can give rise to a nursing home lawsuit. If your loved one has special needs that may not be accommodated through the enforcement of statutory or regulatory rights, it can be important to make sure that the contract specifically sets forth how those special needs will be addressed.

Another area of concern when reviewing a nursing home contract is the financial aspect of the care. A nursing home resident's family is not held responsible for the resident's bill except when they sign a contract agreeing to accept responsibility. A nursing home may require a cosigner or guarantor to sign the contract with the resident. If you are asked to become a responsible party for a loved one's nursing home care, you should consult an attorney to make sure that you understand your responsibilities under the contract.

Consult a Compassionate Nashville Attorney to Understand Your Rights

If you are concerned about the language in a nursing home contract, you should contact Randy Ratliff. He represents people throughout Davidson and Williamson Counties, including in Nashville, Brentwood, Goodlettsville, Joelton, Franklin, Cool Springs, Antioch, Hermitage, and Madison. Contact us by calling 615-656-8282 or using our online form. We are also available if you want to discuss your pension benefits or other complex situations affecting elderly people.