90-21.61. Requirements for submitting to arbitration.

(a) Before Action Is Filed. - Before an action is filed, a person who claims damages for personal injury or wrongful death based on alleged negligence in the provision of health care by a health care provider as defined in G.S. 90-21.11 and the allegedly negligent health care provider may jointly submit their dispute to arbitration under this Article by, acting through their attorneys, filing a stipulation to arbitrate with the clerk of superior court in the county where the negligence allegedly occurred. The filing of such a stipulation provides jurisdiction to the superior court to enforce the provisions of this Article and tolls the statute of limitations.

(b) Once Action Is Filed. - The parties to an action for damages for personal injury or wrongful death based on alleged negligence in the provision of health care by a health care provider as defined in G.S. 90-21.11 may elect at any time during the pendency of the action to file a stipulation with the court in which all parties to the action agree to submit the dispute to arbitration under this Article.

(c) Declaration Not to Arbitrate. - In the event that the parties do not unanimously agree to submit a dispute to arbitration under subsection (b) of this section, the parties shall file a declaration with the court prior to the discovery scheduling conference required by G.S. 1A-1, Rule 26(f1).

The declaration shall state that the attorney representing the party has presented the party with a copy of the provisions of this Article, that the attorneys representing the parties have discussed the provisions of this Article with the parties and with each other, and that the parties do not unanimously agree to submit the dispute to arbitration under this Article. The declaration is without prejudice to the parties' subsequent agreement to submit the dispute to arbitration. (2007-541, s. 1.)