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[photo, William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Maryland] In 1976, the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office was established as the Health Claims Arbitration Office (Chapter 235, Acts of 1976). In 2005, it received its present name (Chapter 5, Acts of Special Session of 2004). For medical injury malpractice claims in excess of $25,000, the Office provides a system of mandatory arbitration.

Each medical malpractice claim is heard by a three-person panel of arbitrators, including an attorney, a health care provider, and a public member. Parties to the case choose the panel from a list of qualified arbitrators supplied by the Director of the Health Claims Arbitration Office. The panel determines who is liable with respect to the claim and, if a health care provider is liable, considers and assesses damages. To reverse or modify the award, the rejecting party must file an appeal with the Circuit Court.

William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Maryland, July 2003. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

To waive the arbitration process and proceed at the Circuit Court level, all parties must agree to waive arbitration. Any party may file a complaint directly at the appropriate Circuit Court after filing a certificate of a qualified expert stating that the injury was caused by a departure from accepted standards of care.

If the parties mutually agree, the courts may refer health care malpractice claims to the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office for the purpose of neutral case evaluation (Chapter 5, Acts of Special Session of 2004). In this process, the Director supplies a list of qualified evaluators to all parties. During the evaluation period, the Circuit Court maintains jurisdiction.

The Director is appointed by the Governor with Senate advice and consent (Code Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article, secs. 3-2A-01 through 3-2A-10).

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 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2011

August 9, 2011   
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