Our practice has adopted a binding arbitration agreement as a process that will be mutually beneficial to everyone.
Binding arbitration has proven to be a more flexible and cost efficient way to resolve disputes. Arbitration lessens the intensity of a jury trial and offers a speedier resolution for both parties.
If you have any questions we will be happy to discuss them with you. We ask that you read the information provided on the document and sign the form. Your signature indicates that you have read and understand this information.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is the process of resolving disputes in front of a panel of neutral arbitrators.
Am I giving up my right to file a lawsuit?
No. Arbitration takes the place of a trial by jury and avoids the lengthy legal process.
What if I don’t sign the arbitration agreement?
Our practice requests all patients sign the arbitration agreement. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the arbitration agreement. If you choose not to sign the agreement the physician will see you today for a consultation, however, this office will be contacting you about this matter and our office policies for patients.
Understanding the arbitration process
Traditionally, medical malpractice suits have been resolved through litigation, a public process that is time consuming, expensive, and stressful for both sides. The high financial and emotional costs of litigation have given rise to an increase in the popularity of binding arbitration, an alternative method for resolving disputes that allows the parties to define the process.
Defining the process
The parties can choose to resolve their dispute informally, with little pre-hearing procedure, or they can agree to resolve their dispute formally, with extensive procedural protocols. If the parties have entered into a proper binding arbitration agreement, the dispute will be resolved with finality and with very limited opportunity for review by the courts.
Arbitration is not new
California physicians have used physician-patient binding arbitration agreements as an alternative to the California civil jury system since the 1920s. With ever-increasing runaway jury awards and civil litigation costs, binding arbitration has become a valuable and viable alternative to resolving disputes in court.
Although choosing to arbitrate does not guarantee that a physician will achieve a better result than in a jury trial, arbitration has proven to be faster, with less time away from your practice, private, more flexible and efficient, less formal, cheaper, and generally results in a more predictable outcome.
The key to an effective arbitration program is developing an agreement that clearly sets forth the rules, procedures, and provisions of the process. Each party, represented by qualified counsel, presents its case and offers evidence and expert witnesses. Presenting a quality defense is as important in arbitration as it is in a jury trial.
The court’s role
There are very limited options for asking the superior court to appeal the award if one of the parties is unwilling to abide by the arbitrators’ decision. The dissatisfied party may petition the superior court to “vacate” the award; the other party may petition for an order confirming it. Except under very limited circumstances, the superior court is not authorized to review any factual or legal errors made by the arbitrators.
If the superior court grants the petition to confirm the award, a judgment is entered, which has the same effect as a judgment entered after a trial. There is no right to appeal the judgment other than the same limited grounds to vacate an award, and arbitration awards are seldom reversed by an appeals court.