It is always wise to consult with an experienced attorney before signing anything that may have far-reaching consequences. A Georgia family sadly learned this the hard way recently, when the state supreme court handed down a decision directing them to engage in arbitration over a wrongful death claim after several years of legal conflict over an signed agreement.
The family originally brought a wrongful death suit against the nursing home where their matriarch had passed away, alleging wrongful death. The woman had suffered several falls during her time in the facility, which resulted in broken bones, and possibly contributed to her death. The lawsuit alleged negligence on the part of several employees.
However, the family had also signed an agreement with the facility that entailed they would arbitrate any legal claims rather than take them directly to court. After several rounds moving up through the court, appeals court and finally the state supreme court, the family is now required to pursue the matter through arbitration, due to a technicality. The woman's son and acting power of attorney signed the agreement on behalf of his mother, and the agreement specifically detailed such a conflict.
Regardless of the "fairness" the verdict, it serves as an important lesson regarding how one should scrutinize a document before signing it. If you are ever concerned about the implications of document, it is wise to have the independent guidance of an experienced attorney who can help you understand the full weight of what you might sign. With proper legal guidance, you can ensure that your rights and the rights of the ones you love remain protected.
Source: Legal News Line, "Georgia Supreme Court rules in favor of arbitration in wrongful-death case," David Hutton, March 14, 2017