Why Do Defendants Like Arbitration Agreements?
Arbitration clauses are in many different areas of law, but they seem to hurt consumers in personal injury cases the most. There are a number of reasons for this, and consumers should be aware of what they are signing when someone asks that they sign an arbitration clause.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is like a “mini-trial” with fewer formalities than a real trial. The rules are more relaxed, and the trial is quicker. These may seem like good things, but arbitration also has a whole host of things that tend to work against an injured victim.
The first thing is that an injured victim will never get to have his or her case heard before a jury. This is because in arbitration, the arbitrator serves as the judge, and hears the evidence, along with deciding disputed matters that may arise in the case even before trial.
An Arbitration’s short proceeding also can be a detriment: In the name of moving cases along quicker, and being easier and cheaper, in many cases that can make it more difficult for injury victims to get the evidence they need to win their case. Things like depositions or discovery of documents may be way more limited than they would be in a traditional case. In other words, the power of the Court has drastically diminished.
Who will decide the case?
Then there are the practicalities of arbitration, and inherent biases that may lie in the system itself. If an insurance company is on the other side of your case, that insurance company may have worked with the arbitrator numerous times every year. You, on the other hand, do not have numerous cases every year. This could give the arbitrator incentive to assist one side over the other, given the ongoing financial relationship that the other side may have, and you as the victim do not.
Arbitration is final—that means that if you don’t like the arbitrator’s award, you can’t get a “do-over” by filing your case in court. Your case is over.
The Power of a Jury is Lost
Many Defendants like arbitration because it eliminates the injured person from having their case heard before a jury of their peers. The parties forego the entire jury selection process which allows injured victims to select a fair and impartial jury.
Arbitration clauses are found everywhere, from cruise line contracts, to cell phone contracts, credit card agreements, liability waivers, cruise line tickets, nursing home paperwork, and even in employment agreements.
If properly written (which they aren’t always properly written), arbitration clauses are valid, although in certain cases, like for sexual harassment, they have been outlawed.
We understand trials, negotiations and arbitration. Call the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law with any questions you may have about your injuries or accidents.