Be Cautious When Signing a Nursing Home Contract

Personal Injury Lawyer

If you are admitting a loved one to a nursing home, chances are they will hand you a contract to review and sign. It’s important to read these contracts carefully because they may involve unlawful or misleading terms. If you can, it’s best to have a lawyer review the contract before you sign it. Additionally, it may be a good idea to put off signing the contract until after your family member has moved in. In this instance, you will have more ground to stand on incase something goes awry.

Two sections are usually found in nursing home contracts or agreements that garner special attention before you sign them.

Arbitration Statement or Provisions

An arbitration statement means that if there are any disagreements regarding your family member’s care, it will be settled through arbitration instead of going to court. While this is not illegal, it does relinquish your right to go to trial to settle a dispute with the nursing home. Most facilities include this in their paperwork, but they cannot force you to sign it. You should strike through the arbitration statement with your initials and the date if you don’t agree to these terms before signing the document.

Definition of Responsible Party

Keep a close eye out for any language in the contract that attempts to have you sign as the responsible party. While nursing homes are not allowed to force a third party to become responsible for paying the bills, they often attempt to have family members sign this part willingly.

The best thing to do is have your family member sign the agreement if he or she can. If they are unable to sign the agreement and you do need to sign for them, make sure to state that you are acting as the agent and not the responsible party. If you sign as the responsible party, you will be responsible for paying any bills that are due, whether your family member can pay for them or not.

It’s best to cross out any language indicating that you are signing as the responsible party and 

make it clear that you are only using your family member’s resources to pay bills. While a contract will give you an idea of what the nursing home will and will not do, every nursing home resident has rights that are inalienable. If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home neglect or abuse, you can seek compensation whether you have a contract or not. Contact an experienced nursing home lawyer, like a nursing home lawyer in Baltimore, MD, to discuss your options.

Thanks to Brown Kiely LLP for their insight into what to look for when signing a nursing home contract.