Recently, the Indiana Court of Appeals, issued an opinion reversing the denial of a plaintiff’s motion to compel arbitration. The appellate court remanded a case involving a malpractice claim brought by the estate of a nursing home resident. The record indicates that the family discovered that the woman developed several medical conditions and ailments while residing at the nursing facility. These conditions led her to experience debilitating pain and suffering and become liable for significant medical expenses up until her death.
Shortly after filing a medical malpractice claim against the facility, the estate became aware of an arbitration agreement the woman signed upon admission. Upon discovery of the agreement, the estate filed a motion to compel arbitration. The trial court ultimately denied the estate’s motion to compel arbitration, finding that the claim must first proceed through the process outlined in the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act (Act).
Indiana generally has a strong policy that favors enforcing arbitration agreements. In cases where a party motions the court to compel arbitration, the court will evaluate whether the parties agreed to arbitrate the specific dispute at issue. Like Indiana contract law, disputes often rely on the parties’ intent and the construction of the terms of an agreement.
In this case, the parties agreed that the agreement the parties signed was binding and enforceable; however, the estate argued that the Act did not apply because of the agreement set forth arbitration as the exclusive avenue for resolution.
Before proceeding to court, Indiana Code section 34-18-8-4 provides that claims against healthcare providers must be presented to a medical review panel, and the panel must issue an opinion. However, the law recognizes that the parties may agree to waive this requirement. A valid agreement must be in writing, signed by each party or their authorized representative, and attached to the complaint.
Here, the parties chose to agree to arbitrate any legal claim. The parties agreed that the exclusive means for resolving claims was through arbitration. Additionally, the parties could have agreed that submitting a claim to a medical review panel was a condition precedent to seeking arbitration. However, the nursing facility did not do so. Therefore, the court ultimately concluded that the nursing facility waived its right to avail itself of the Act. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Have You Suffered Injuries Because of a Negligent Nursing Facility?
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries because of another’s negligence in Indiana, you should contact Padove Law. Attorney Burton Padove is highly skilled in personal injury law, including lawsuits stemming from motor vehicle accidents, defective products, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and cases involving Indiana nursing home abuse and neglect. He has successfully represented countless clients over the years in their claims against negligent individuals, companies, and organizations. Through Attorney Padove’s representation, Indiana injury victims have recovered significant amounts of compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact our office at 877-446-5294, to schedule a free initial consultation with Padove Law.