What Injured Victims Should Know About Medical Malpractice Arbitration in Maryland

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on December 7, 2023 and updated on December 14, 2023.

arbitration agreement under gavelMost Maryland medical malpractice cases are resolved by a jury in a courtroom, but some are resolved via alternative dispute resolution. One type of alternative dispute resolution that is common in medical malpractice cases is arbitration.

While there may be some advantages to medical malpractice arbitration, there are also significant disadvantages. At The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl, we have helped many victims of medical malpractice secure compensation. Below, we explain what patients need to know about this process.

If you were injured because of a healthcare provider’s malpractice, call to schedule your free legal consultation.

Zero upfront costs. Contact us to learn more: 410-244-7005.

Arbitration in Maryland Medical Malpractice Claims

In Maryland, medical malpractice victims who wish to seek damages for their injuries must file claims with the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (HCADRO). This office manages the non-binding arbitration of medical malpractice claims.

State law requires medical malpractice claims to be arbitrated before they are allowed to proceed to court. In fact, if someone files a lawsuit without first filing a claim with the HCADRO, the defendant can file a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed.

HCADRO provides both parties with a list of arbitrators so they can select a three-person panel to hear their case. Each panel chosen must consist of an attorney, health care provider and a member of the public.

The arbitration panel examines the evidence and determines if the healthcare provider is liable for damages. if the panel finds for the plaintiff/victim, the members will decide how much compensation to award.

However, one or both parties may decide to waive the requirement to go through arbitration. They can do this at any point before the panel hears the case. If your Maryland medical malpractice lawyer or the other party decides to waive arbitration, the case can proceed to trial.

Even if both sides go through with arbitration, it is non-binding. Both parties have 30 days from the date of the panel’s decision to file an appeal. The case can then be tried before a judge or jury in a courtroom. The judge or jury can reverse the panel’s decision or make changes to the award of compensation.

What Are the Problems With Medical Malpractice Arbitration?

Although arbitration takes a lot less time than a courtroom trial, there are some significant disadvantages to this process for medical malpractice victims.

For example, discovery before arbitration is limited. That means the panel decides your case based on limited evidence. The defendant may have important evidence that you were unable to obtain, and this could hurt your chances of getting a favorable result.

The rules of evidence for arbitration and courtroom trials are different. That means the arbitration panel can consider evidence that might be excluded in court. This could work to your advantage, but it could also hurt your case.

Another disadvantage to arbitration is there is no jury. Although each case is unique, juries tend to have sympathy for medical malpractice victims, which could improve your chances of securing a favorable verdict.

While witnesses can still be cross-examined in arbitration, this process is more limited, making it harder to point out problems with someone’s testimony.

Finally, some arbitrators may be more focused on pleasing both sides than reaching a fair decision. Even if you have a strong case, the panel might not want to make a decision that favors one side more than the other.

While it might be possible to get a favorable result from arbitration, the odds are against it. You are essentially trying your case twice, as you can still go to court after arbitration. That is why many Maryland medical malpractice claims are resolved in the courtroom.

After a medical malpractice injury, you do not want to simply reach a resolution, you want justice and favorable compensation to help you put your life back together. While it takes a long time to reach a resolution in court, it is often the best way to secure the favorable result you are seeking.

Medical malpractice insurance companies are often in favor of arbitration, which gives an indication of who benefits from this process. Insurers are looking to limit their liability or pay no compensation at all. Insurers know that juries are going to view victims more favorably than corporations with deep pockets.

Call To Discuss Legal Action After Suffering a Medical Malpractice Injury

One of the critical decisions that needs to be made after a medical malpractice injury is your choice of legal representation. These are complex cases that can be challenging to prove, so you need an experienced lawyer with in-depth legal knowledge and multiple resources to build a strong case.

Our firm has decades of experience taking on and winning medical malpractice cases. We know what it takes to win these cases and secure the compensation victims deserve.

Experienced lawyers help level the playing field against powerful insurance companies that want to pay victims far less than they need.

Call us to find out if you may have a case. Phone: 410-244-7005.