As a lawyer who makes a living representing plaintiffs in personal injury related matters, my suggestion to demand a right to a jury trial probably comes at no surprise. Self-serving issues aside, our jury system (in the Civil setting) a place for those who have been wronged to obtain fair compensation for their injuries. Juries are composed of people from the plaintiff’s community who make the decision of who get what and how much they are getting. The jury’s award must be unanimous.
Does the jury always make the ‘right’ decision? No. Does a jury always make a rational decision? No.
The jury system remains in place because there is no better or fairer way of redressing fault than through a jury trial. Twelve people must listen to the evidence, sort through the witness testimony and make tough decisions that have incredible importance on the parties lives.
In an effort to streamline the injury claim process and remove some ‘juror uncertainty’, nursing home owners have started to encourage residents to sign binding arbitration clauses into contracts. The Wall Street Journal documented how the practice is becoming more common in the nursing home industry. Unfortunately, as the article points out, many new nursing home residents who are signing these agreements are in positions of weakness at the time the clauses are executed. Many of the people who are signing these clauses may be in weaken physical state or be in the beginning stages of dementia.
Nonetheless, the binding arbitration clauses appear to have some benefits for the nursing home industry.