Many long-term care advocates agree that signing arbitration agreements is a bad idea. Ideally, arbitration saves everyone involved time and money, but in reality, the process gives well-informed industrial organizations an unfair advantage over uninformed consumers.
What Is Arbitration?
The problem with arbitration starts with this question. Many consumers do not understand what the word itself means, and if they do know the definition, they may fail to grasp the implications of the process.
According to the American Bar Association, arbitration is a “private process where disputing parties agree that one or several individuals can make a decision about the dispute after receiving evidence and hearing arguments.”
Essentially, arbitration is a private, small-scale way to resolve disagreements. Consumers typically agree to arbitration before problems arise.
By doing so, they consent to resolve their disputes outside of court and waive their Seventh Amendment right to a trial by jury.
What Is An Arbitrator?
Typically, an arbitrator is the individual responsible for hearing arguments, receiving evidence, and making decisions in arbitration. Some arbitrators are known to be “systematically industry-friendly” and others are “consumer-friendly.”
How Are Arbitrators Chosen?
In a perfect world, both consumers and industry-representatives have a say in choosing an arbitrator. Both parties are given a randomly generated list of potential arbitrators and the opportunity to express input. According to the 2018 “Arbitration with Uninformed Consumers” study, however, industry-friendly arbitrators are 40% more likely to be selected than their consumer-friendly counterparts.
At the end of the day, whichever party is more informed at the beginning of the arbitration process is more likely to win the dispute. Additionally, some arbitrators accept “repeat customers” and are more likely to rule in favor of their employers in an effort to maintain job security.
From the very beginning, arbitration puts uninformed consumers at risk.
How Can I Keep Myself Safe?
If you can, avoid singing arbitration agreements. If you do not fully understand a document, consult your attorney before signing.
In the unfortunate event that you have already signed an arbitration agreement, contact your attorney to explore your legal options.
Information is your greatest tool in arbitration, and our legal team at The Law Office of Mark Redmond can help you utilize it.
If you are facing an arbitration concern, call us at (916) 905-5505 or schedule a free consultation