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New York Court Discusses Compulsory Arbitration in Medical Malpractice Cases

Often, when people go to the hospital for an acute issue, they are asked to fill out certain documents and forms prior to being admitted or treated. Many people sign such materials in haste, without thoroughly reading their terms. Such decisions can be costly, however, as hospital admission documents often contain provisions impacting patient rights in the event of a dispute or harm arising out of incompetent care. This was demonstrated recently in a ruling issued by a New York court in a hospital malpractice case, in which the court affirmed an order compelling the plaintiff to arbitrate a dispute with a hospital. If you were injured due to negligent care you received in a hospital, it is smart to speak to a Rochester hospital malpractice lawyer regarding your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff visited the defendant hospital for an unspecified concern and was admitted for treatment. Prior to her admission, she completed and signed numerous documents, including a document referred to as an admission agreement in capital letters and a document referred to as an arbitration agreement. She subsequently experienced complications due to her treatment and filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting numerous claims, including medical malpractice. The defendant moved to compel arbitration.

Compulsory Arbitration in Medical Malpractice Cases

The court granted the motion. The court was not persuaded by the plaintiff’s conflicting arguments that she did not sign the arbitration agreement or that she believed it to be the admission agreement. The court explained that the two agreements were signed at different times, and their headings were clear, removing any chance of confusion. Additionally, a forensic expert examined the arbitration agreement and determined that it did, in fact, contain her signature.

Further, the arbitration agreement contained a provision that required the plaintiff to specifically acknowledge that she had a chance to consult with the defendant hospital’s representative regarding the terms. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the defendant hospital waived the right to arbitrate by participating in litigation, noting that it merely contested the court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over it, not the merits of the case.

It did not participate in discovery and set forth an affirmative defense when it answered the complaint noting that it intended to arbitrate. Finally, the court pointed out that the plaintiff failed to show that she would suffer prejudice by being compelled to arbitrate. Based on the foregoing, the court granted the defendant hospital’s motion.

Confer with a Seasoned Rochester Attorney

Hospitals, unfortunately, do not always uphold their obligation to provide patients with competent care, and when patients suffer harm as a result of treatment in a hospital, they can often recover substantial damages. If you suffered harm because of treatment in a hospital, it is smart to confer with an attorney regarding your options for pursuing damages. The seasoned Rochester hospital malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and aid you in pursuing any compensation you may be owed. You can reach us through our form online by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a consultation.




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