There is an increasing trend among businesses to push customers toward arbitration. Scroll through any one of those long, dense terms of service documents and chances are that you’ll find an arbitration clause. These clauses state that you agree to arbitration rather than litigation should any problems arise with your service. In select personal injury and auto accident cases, arbitration may also come up as an alternative to litigation.
What is Arbitration?
In the simplest terms, arbitration is a method of handling disputes without going to court. Instead, the parties involved defer to an arbitrator. This individual hears both sides of the story, reviews the available evidence, and then determines how the parties should proceed. This process is not as rigid as a trial, but has many of the same consequences. If you’ve agreed to be bound by arbitration, an arbitrator’s decision could be the final word on your case.
Arbitration cases vary in terms of complexity and specificity. If you’re facing arbitration in an injury-related case, talking to a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer is a good first step. Even if the case isn’t going to a traditional court hearing, an attorney can help you understand your rights and ensure you’re protected from abuse of an arbitration clause. It is not uncommon at all for all parties involved in arbitration to seek the aid of an attorney.
Pros and Cons
Arbitration has some clear advantages: It’s less hostile than going to court, it’s more efficient, it’s much less confusing, it’s private, and it’s relatively easy to deal with. It also has some clear disadvantages: Arbitration decisions are hard to challenge or overturn, generally benefit those with greater resources, have very little guarantee of transparent proceedings, and can present immense costs. The final decision as to whether arbitration is the right decision will come down to personal preference and the facts of your case (in some situations arbitration is mandatory); contacting an attorney and seeking professional guidance will ensure that you’re protected.