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Arbitration Clauses Keep Most Medical Malpractice Cases Out Of Court In California

 

As a condition to providing medical treatment or insurance most California healthcare providers and insurance companies require people to agree to arbitrate any disputes regarding malpractice. Arbitration is a system of alternative dispute resolution wherein the parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons, called the arbitrators, by whose decision they agree to be bound. Arbitration is a for profit industry. Parties must pay the arbitrators to judge their matter. Most arbitrators are retired judges or experienced attorneys.

Proponents argue that arbitration is a faster and more efficient than trials. Opponents argue that juries are more inclined to give larger awards than arbitrators (or judges) and that arbitration plus caps on pain and suffering damages are unfair to malpractice claimants.

Last summer a California court allowed a litigant to proceed with a lawsuit despite an arbitration agreement. The court ruled that the patient did not receive the time allotted by California law to reflect on the arbitration agreement. In the case of Rodriguez v. Witzling, the court stated that because the patient did not have 30 days to consider the arbitration agreement and change her mind, her agreement was void. The case is unusual because the reason the patient did not have the full time period is that she died before it expired.  Her family was suing for wrongful death.

Read the case at http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0809%2FC057565

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