Have you signed away your constitutional rights lately? If you bought a house, a car, or ordered anything online, you probably have signed away your 7th Amendment rights without knowing it. The Bill of Rights guarantees citizens many important rights including the right to a jury trial in a civil case. The ability to file suit an hold negligent corporations liable for harm that they have caused is an important right that should not be freely relinquished. How is this right being taken away from us? It is in the small print that accompanies many transactions these days. More and more, contracts include arbitration clauses that provide if you are injured or killed by the company’s product, an arbitrator of the company’s choosing will decide if you will be compensated for the harm caused. These contracts also contain provisions that may limit the amount of damages that you may recover. Often, this contract is presented to you after you have already negotiated a deal for the used car, or perhaps the new house. Sadly, arbitration clauses are used routinely used when admitting a loved one into a nursing home. In such cases, the resident isn’t even the one who signs the agreement and the nursing home does not explain the importance of this agreement. It is just one more piece of paper that requires a signature with the nursing home representative assuring you that this is just “standard legal stuff.” It is not until the nursing home causes serious harm to a loved one that this “standard legal” document rears its ugly head. Thankfully, an experienced nursing home litigation lawyer can have these one-sided, unfair agreements thrown out. Nevertheless, you should avoid these arbitration agreements whenever you can. Let the first question you ask when buying a house or a car, is whether their contracts have an arbitration clause. That should also be one of the first questions you ask when considering a nursing home. If a company is not willing to stand behind a product, or a nursing home tries to escape the rights guaranteed to you by the 7th Amendment by hiding an arbitration clause in a mound of paperwork, find another place to take your business. Don’t give up your right, or your loved one’s right, to hold corporations liable for their negligence and neglect.

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