Early in the history of this nation, disputes were often resolved in barbaric fashion. An individual might challenge someone who had grieved him to a duel which could occasionally result in injury or death. In 1804, the Vice President of the United States killed Founding Father Alexander Hamilton in one of these duels after accusing him of slander. But when the Founders drafted the Constitution, they incorporated an essential doctrine of law that would provide a more civilized and fair way of settling such complaints. That method was the jury trial, and every Americans’ right to a trial is enshrined in the Seventh Amendment of United States Constitution. But today that right is being threatened by manipulative practices of corporations who want to play by different rules.
Arbitration agreements are everywhere. You can find them in credit card agreements, insurance policies, or those dreaded privacy policies that pop up when you install software. But one place you may not expect to see them is in admissions paperwork for a nursing home or assisted living facility. These documents typically take the form of a several pages but may be as small as a clause or line in a contract. No matter their size, they can have a profound impact on your ability to seek legal recourse when you have been wronged.
Corporations tend to favor arbitration because it essentially allows them to opt out of the legal system. When they are negligent and cause injury or death, they are not required to answer to a judge or jury in a courtroom. Instead, they are allowed to make their case in front of an arbitrator who often provides results which are much friendlier to corporate parties.