Sacramento Hospital Claims Patient Waived Rights In Wrongful Death Case, Part 5 of 9

It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this wrongful death case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser Permanente, UC Davis Medical Center, Mercy, Methodist, or Sutter.

(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this personal injury action and its proceedings.)

Perhaps nowhere is the import of these principles more apparent than in the context of the hospital emergency room (ER). California law has long held that especially where, as here, a patient arrives at the ER in a condition impaired by a serious injury or illness, hospital admission forms purporting to circumscribe the hospital’s liability constitute adhesion contracts. As the California Supreme Court recognized in Tunkl v. Board of Regents (1963) 60 Cal. 2d 92, 93 The would-be patient is in no position to reject the proffered agreement, to bargain with the hospital, or in lieu of agreement to find another hospital.

The admission room of a hospital contains no bargaining table where, as in a private business transaction, the parties can debate the terms of their contract. As a result, we cannot but conclude that the instant agreement manifested the characteristics of the so-called adhesion contract … ” Id at 102; see also Wheeler, supra, 63 C.A.3d at 357 (wherein the court, relying on Tunkel, held that a hospital’s standard printed “Conditions of Admission” constitutes an adhesion contract, especially because a patient being admitted to a hospital is in no position to debate his or her terms of admission).

Significantly, while the admission agreement in Tunkl involved a clause purporting to waive liability, Wheeler involved an arbitration clause-a provision freighted with public policy concerns favoring its application.

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

As the court explained, ” … in the factual context of the instant case, two important and competing public policy considerations must be weighed and applied in determining whether there was an agreement to arbitrate. On the one hand there is a strong judicial policy favoring arbitration and on the other there is an equally strong judicial concern for the rights of consumers of goods and services against whom unexpected or oppressive provisions of standardized contracts are sought to be enforced.” Id at 355. (See Part 6 of 9.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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