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Arbitration in Birth Defect Lawsuits

What is an arbitration phrase? How does it affect birth defect lawsuits?

Many times, birth defect lawsuits are settled out of court. This is especially true if evidence in the case is obvious. Arbitration is a negotiation phase that occurs after no settlement can be reached. It is an alternative to taking a claim to court. Rules determine how arbitration is done. Arbitration reduces the amount of claims that actually go to court.

How an arbitrator is chosen and how the process differs from filing a lawsuit

An arbitrator may be chosen from one of the three big arbitration associations or the individual parties may choose an individual arbitrator. Usually, each party nominates an arbitrator in the selection process. There will be a fee charged for employing an arbitrator. The individual may collect it, or if they are from an agency, the agency will. Usually the fee is a percentage of the amount that is being asked for or that the claim is settled for. Both parties must agree on the arbitrator.

The arbitrator is an outside party who has no involvement in the claim. Many arbitrators have experience as attorneys or judges. Arbitration rules are much simpler than that of a court proceeding, and the proceedings are usually done in private.

Why an arbitration is could be more appealing for both parties in a birth defect claim than a lawsuit

Taking a claim to court is expensive for both sides in birth defect. There are witnesses, expert and non-expert, testimonial, medical records, jury selection, and other legal professionals involved in a court trial. Court cases also take up a lot of time before a verdict is reached. If there are appeals, the process can take longer. In addition, families with an injured child may be exposed to additional trauma in a trial. The length and the stages of a trial, as well as possibly being required to testify, can take an emotional toll on families.

Arbitrators will usually work very hard to reach an agreement that both sides will approve of, as a trial will most likely be the next stage. As there are a lot of emotions and anger involved in a birth defect claim, the arbitrator will usually be expert in maintaining peace and order between the two sides during the arbitration process. Also, the average time between arbitration and decision was 475 days in an arbitrated case. It is estimated that a lawsuit of the same type could take as long as 3 years.

Court may still be an option

If the arbitration clause was non-binding (meaning that the arbitration decision was able to be reversed), a claimant may choose to take the claim to court. However, it will be difficult to reverse an arbitrator’s decision. Usually, this happens only when the claimant has evidence that the arbitrator denied them to a fair hearing. Examples of this would be that an arbitrator has a conflict of interest with one party, was biased in some way, or was corrupt.