Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process by which a decision is reached from a neutral individual who may or may not be a former judge, as an alternative to going to court.
An interesting change in medical malpractice is the removal of the requirement for arbitration. Arbitration in medical malpractice complaints used to be required unless BOTH PARTIES agreed to waive it. This would obviously pose a problem, whereby one party would be forced to go through the arbitration process instead of filing suit and going to trial, even if they did not want to go through the process and expense and even if there was no prior agreement to do so.
However, now medical malpractice arbitration requirements can be unilaterally waived. This means only one of the parties has to request to waive this alternative process and have the case proceed directly to court. See Maryland’s Health Claims Arbitration Office. Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §3–2A–06A-B.
While alternative dispute resolution such as arbitration CAN be beneficial, there is also risk. It is typically binding. Even though a party can reject the arbitrators decision, the decision can be introduced at trial. The arbitration findings are admissible and presumed correct in subsequent court proceedings, unless vacated by the court. See Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-2A-06. And keep in mind, if the outcome ends up being less favorable at trial for the party rejecting it, the rejecting party can be liable for court costs.
See the links below for some additional articles on Medical Malpractice arbitration which this author found interesting.