The Validity of Arbitration Agreements in Indiana Negligence and Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Indiana arbitration agreements are commonplace, and many people agree to the terms without fully understanding what arbitration entails. Arbitration is an out-of-court method to resolve disputes among parties. It is designed to cut costs and allow the parties to reach an agreement without a trial. However, arbitration clauses generally favor the businesses that include them in their contracts. And it is important to know that there are instances where an arbitration agreement is not valid, or arbitration is not appropriate.

For example, in a recent opinion, a state appellate court addressed issues that commonly arise in Indiana nursing home lawsuits where a defendant is trying to compel arbitration. According to the court’s opinion, a nursing facility attempted to compel arbitration after a plaintiff asserted claims of negligence, willful misconduct, elder abuse, and wrongful death against the facility. The plaintiff’s mother was suffering from various ailments and required nursing home care. When the woman entered the facility, the plaintiff signed but did not date an arbitration agreement. Sometime after her admittance, the woman was transferred to a hospital where doctors discovered, among other things, that her leg required amputation. Sadly, the woman died shortly after. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit claiming that the nursing home withheld care, and recklessly disregarded her mother’s health and safety. The nursing home tried to compel arbitration based on the admittance contract.

The defendant argued that arbitration was appropriate because a facility representative witnessed the mother provide the daughter with express authority to sign the agreement on her behalf. The daughter countered that the facility fabricated the circumstances surrounding the execution of the contract. She explained that her mother did not provide her with authorization to sign the agreement on her behalf, and she was not in the room during admittance. Ultimately, the court concluded that the agreement was both procedurally invalid and substantively unconscionable.

Indiana law provides courts with a guideline when a party tries to compel an arbitration agreement. The relevant law explains that the court is limited to deciding whether there is an arbitration agreement, not the terms of the actual contract. They look to whether a party waived their right to arbitrate, whether the claim is time-barred, or if it is unconscionable and violates public policy. Indiana injury victims who believe they entered into an invalid agreement to arbitrate should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

Have You Suffered Injuries Because of Someone’s Negligence?

If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of another’s negligence, you should contact the Indiana injury attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse. Although arbitration agreements are widely used, many situations require a court’s intervention. If you feel that another party is unlawfully compelling you to engage in the arbitration to settle your negligence claims, you should contact the attorneys at our law firm. The attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience handling all types of personal injury lawsuits — including those involving Indiana nursing home abuse or neglect — and can help get you the compensation you deserve. Compensation may include payments for medical bills, ongoing medical expenses, lost wages, funeral and burial expenses, and pain and suffering. Contact our law firm today at 888-532-7766 to schedule your free initial consultation.