Maryland Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements: Advantages and Applicable Law

Arbitration agreements are often used as a tool against nursing home residents and their families to block litigation in court. There are several disadvantages to arbitration, but there are advantages as well, and some individuals with Maryland nursing home cases may opt for arbitration. Some of the advantages are that claimants may be able to resolve their cases more quickly and more cost-effectively. In addition, because the rules of evidence do not apply, parties may be able to present additional documents and witnesses. Also, arbitration proceedings are generally private, and the parties can decide can keep the proceedings confidential.

In cases that will be resolved through arbitration, there may be a question about the applicable law. Maryland’s Maryland Uniform Arbitration Act (MUAA), governs arbitration in Maryland. The MUAA generally applies if the arbitration agreement contains an explicit choice of law clause that states that Maryland law will govern dispute resolution. But the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) governs most arbitration disputes as it applies to transactions involving interstate commerce, which has been interpreted broadly. In general, the FAA preempts state law if it contradicts with the FAA, but there are situations in which state law may apply. Both the FAA and the MUAA favor the enforcement of arbitration agreements generally.

In a recent case, a state appeals court ordered a plaintiff’s claim to be resolved through arbitration on the plaintiff’s motion. In that case, the resident signed an arbitration agreement with a nursing home as part of her admission process. The agreement stated that all legal claims against the nursing home had to be resolved in arbitration. After her death, her estate filed a claim against the facility alleging medical malpractice. Per that state’s law, the claim was filed with the state’s Department of Insurance.

The estate filed a motion to compel arbitration, but the trial court found it was not yet ripe for arbitration finding the claim had to proceed through the review process first. An appeals court disagreed, finding that the agreement provided that claims would be resolved exclusively through arbitration. In addition, arbitration was favored, and thus the facility, through the agreement, gave up its right to file a claim under the Medical Malpractice Act. Because there was no condition to allow the presentation of the case to a review panel before submitting the case to arbitration, the court agreed that the case should be sent to arbitration.

Contact a Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer

If your loved one has been injured in a Maryland nursing home, contact an experienced Maryland nursing home attorney. The nursing home attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, have represented injured victims for decades. They understand the struggles that you are facing and strive to reduce the stress on you as much as possible so that you can get your life back on track. They have the tenacity and resources to pursue all of the parties responsible for causing your loved one harm. To set up a free consultation, call them at (800) 654-3600 or contact them through their online form.

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