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Nursing home residents and their families face more than the risk of abuse and neglect, a recent New York Times article reported. The multi-billion dollar industry has created a way to suppress the constitutional right of residents and their families of trial by jury when abuse and neglect occurs. Vulnerable consumers, desperate to sign agreements, are forced into mediation rather than lawsuits. Forced arbitration clauses, such as those found in nursing home agreements, favor corporations and prevent consumers from holding companies fully accountable. They make claims too expensive to pursue and provide little relief to customers that have been wronged by abusive practices.

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arbitration, Chicago personal injury lawyerMost Americans know that corporations who make the products they enjoy are out for profit, and that they often bend the truth to do so. But what they may not know is that, behind those companies, there are organizations that seem to have the public’s best interest in mind. Nothing more than a set of smoke screens and mirrors, these organizations help hide the ugly truth: the corporate world can be an ugly, deceptive, and apathetic to the very consumers who purchase their products. Case in point: a recent blog post from the Chamber of Commerce on the “benefits” of forced arbitration.

What is Arbitration?

Used as an alternative to litigation, arbitration was originally intended for businesses. Similar to traditional courts, only less formal, it gave them a way to negotiate contracts and other business-related deals at a lower cost and in less time. These were collective agreements where both parties possessed similar levels of power, and that kept the playing field even and somewhat fair. But when arbitration made its way into consumer agreements, it became a way to abuse power and keep disgruntled consumers quiet.

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arbitration, consumer rights, Chicago personal injury lawyersDeveloped to protect Americans from government corruption, the Bill of Rights has afforded us with many freedoms. Yet, behind the scenes, Wall Street companies are silently stripping away some of those very same rights with their muddy legal jargon, intentionally deceptive practices, and carefully planted arbitration clauses. Unfortunately, most Americans are unaware of such practices. It is not until they are completely blindsided that they realize just how much corporations are taking advantage of them today.

How the Legal Landscape Has Changed

Comprised of individual plaintiffs that have banded together, class-action lawsuits are meant to force corporations into admitting their wrongdoings (or, at the very least, paying for their mistakes). They give individuals an effective and low-cost means with which to challenge ill-behaving corporations with seemingly endless resources. Unfortunately, class-action cases have become almost non-existent now that companies have found a way to work around them with arbitration clauses.

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