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June 8, 2017

Legislative Changes Affect Claims, Arbitration for Victims of Elder Abuse

As the elderly population continues to rise in the United States, the need for home care positions and facilities continues to be in high demand. Unfortunately, the staff to patient ratio is on the decline, resulting in a lack of care and neglect in some patients. The growing problem of elder abuse in the United States has been met with recent pieces of legislation that could negatively affect arbitration and claims filed in the event there is an instance of abuse or neglect.

 

Protection Withdrawn

A protection against victims of nursing home abuse under the Obama Administration is on its way to be withdrawn after a new rule under the Trump Administration has been proposed by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS).

The new rule would overturn the ban on mandatory arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts, making it harder for senior citizens and their families to receive compensation if abused or neglected.

CMS believes this new rule would strengthen the arbitration process by supporting nursing home residents to make their own informed decision about their care. However, advocates against this proposal believe that this does more harm than good. Senior citizens will be forced to sign a contract taking away their rights to sue in court in the event they are victimized by abuse or by neglect. While voluntary arbitration agreements can still be applied, senior citizens are more vulnerable and are at the mercy of attorneys if they decide they need to sue.

 

Senate Bill 338

In West Virginia, a recent piece of legislation set to go into effect on July 1, will dramatically change the statute of limitations when it comes to filing a claim for cases regarding nursing home abuse or neglect. Senate Bill 338 reduces the amount of time the plaintiff can file a lawsuit for any incident at a nursing home from two years to one year, defines what counts as an “occurrence,” and also redefines what constitutes abuse or neglect.

Currently in West Virginia, attorneys are able to file separate lawsuits for each injury sustained while the patients were in the care of the facility. Under Senate 338, all injuries would be categorized as just one case; meaning only one lawsuit will be filed regardless of how many injuries the victim sustained.

Those against Senate Bill 338 believe that this piece of legislation only benefits nursing homes based upon profits increasing from $9.6 million in 2014 to $25 million in 2015. Profits are expected to rise even further now that countless victims of nursing home abuse or neglect will have less time to file a lawsuit.

 

Nursing homes and long term care facilities must comply with certain federal regulations and laws to receive federal funding. If you believe that your loved one or family member is not receiving the appropriate standard of care that is required by law, the attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., can help. Our attorneys are experienced in handling nursing home abuse cases. You can learn more about choosing a nursing home and how to identify abuse and neglect at Elderly-Abuse.com: Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect.

 

Sources:

Rusty Marks, “Statue of Limitations to Change for Claims Against Nursing Homes,” The State Journal (June 1, 2017). [Link]

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “CMS Issues Proposed Revision Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities’ Arbitration Agreements,” (June 5, 2017). [Link]

Megan Leonhardt, The Trump Administration Wants to Kill a Rule Protecting Elderly from Nursing Home Abuses, “ Time.com (June 6, 2017). [Link]

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