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Arbitration in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

What is an arbitration phrase? How does it affect medical malpractice lawsuits?

For medical malpractice claims, there is an effort by many in the legal field to keep cases out of courts, due to how overburdened the court system is. There is an equal effort by members of the medical profession to keep themselves out of courts due to client lawsuits. For this reason, arbitration is becoming more and more utilized for these types of claims. This is a stage of negotiating that involves an independent party. There are rules regarding way that arbitration is done.

How is an arbiter chosen and how is the process different from filing a lawsuit?

Both sides of a claim will agree on an arbitrator. The two sides will both create lists of potential arbitrators until one is chosen. An arbitrator can be chosen be simply going to the phone book or online-there are plenty of people that offer private arbitrator services, and they are easy to locate and contact.

Alternatively, there are three arbitration associations that also can be contacted and hired. Usually, there is a fee to hire an arbitrator. It will either be collected by the individual, if they are self-employed, or collected by their agency if they are with one. Arbitrators will try their hardest to get a settlement that both sides can agree on. Also, the proceedings are private and the rules around it are much simpler than a court.

Why an arbitration is more appealing for both parties in a medical malpractice claim than filing a lawsuit

The medical field has seen their fees go down and their need for legal representation decline with arbitration. As a result, many health insurance companies and medical care providers will ask patients to sign disclosures in which they waive their right to a trial in favor of arbitration. If there is evidence of malpractice, a patient who has signed this will be legally bound to arbitrate.

However, there are also many advantages for the claimant, as well. Medical malpractice has the potential to be extremely time-consuming and expensive. Also, an unfavorable result or death in a claim is not necessarily evidence of malpractice. Furthermore, many states have made it more difficult for patients to file such claims. There needs to be medical experts, witnesses and records provided, and there may be a long wait for a trial. Arbitration keeps costs low for the client, as well as provides a quicker resolution and a private, confidential proceeding.

How a claimant has the option to go to court if they believe they didn't receive a fair decision

Usually, there will be a clause in an arbitration agreement binding the decision made. The medical provider usually wants the incident to go away as quickly as possible with few people ever finding out about it. However, there may be way for a claimant to get a medical malpractice ruling overturned and go to court. If the claimant can prove that the arbitrator had a bias toward the medical provider, that the arbitrator has accepted bribes or was unethical, that may be a way. Also, if there is language in the agreement that is unfair (for example, binding one side to the decision but not the other) than that could nullify the agreement.