Wrongful death claims allow a personal representative of an estate to seek compensation for any pain and suffering their loved one experienced prior to his or her death, as well as medical expenses and loss of the deceased person’s services and income. While it is obvious that a wrongful death claim can only be pursued in the event of a person’s death, it is less clear whether an arbitration agreement entered into by a decedent is binding on the decedent’s personal representative in the pursuit of a wrongful death claim.
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit recently certified the question of whether an agreement to arbitrate entered into by a person prior to his or her death is binding on the person’s beneficiaries to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). If you suffered the loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, it is essential to consult an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assist you in pursuing your wrongful death claim.
The Decedent’s Arbitration Agreement
It is reported that the decedent was taken by ambulance to a nursing home run by the plaintiffs. Upon her admission, the defendant, who was the decedent’s daughter, signed multiple documents on behalf of the decedent, including an Alternative Dispute Resolution Agreement (the Agreement). The defendant was permitted to sign these documents pursuant to a document executed by the decedent, granting the defendant power of attorney. The Agreement stated that any disputes would be resolved exclusively by mediation, and if mediation was unsuccessful, binding arbitration. The decedent died and the defendant subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the plaintiffs in state court.