Arbitration As An Alternate To Dispute Resolution Through Litigation
After an injury occurs as a result of another person’s negligence, it is not uncommon for the injured party to go to court to try and receive compensation to cover the medical and other costs related to the injuries. However, in some cases the injured party is restricted from suing in court due to a binding agreement with the person who caused the injuries requiring arbitration before any litigation.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a process of resolving legal disputes through the use of one or more impartial people who hear the facts of the dispute in place of a judge or jury, and then render a decision that is binding on the parties involved. Arbitration is supposed to be a cheaper alternative to litigation. The parties involved in arbitration may call witnesses and present evidence as they would at trial, and in some cases, at the end of the arbitration the arbitrator may award damages, including punitive damages. The Revised Florida Arbitration Code governs the arbitration under contracts or agreements entered into after July 1, 2013, which are not covered under federal law or the law of other states under the contract.
While there may be advantages to arbitration, some people may feel as though it is more advantageous to the larger company with more resources because arbitration fees can sometimes be high. Additionally, it may be more difficult to try to overturn a bad decision from an arbitrator than it would be to seek an appeal of a judicial decision. Seeking a resolution through arbitration also eliminates a jury, which can sometimes be a very important element in a personal injury case.
Invalidating an Arbitration Clause
One of the main ways in which arbitration agreements are attacked is that at the time of signing the contract, the parties were not equal bargaining parties, and the person seeking to invalidate the agreement was in an unfair position. For example, if a person needed a service from a large company or organization, and the only way to get the service was to sign a contract with the terms essentially as determined by the company, the person can argue they did not really have a choice in accepting the terms of the contract. If the terms of the contract include an arbitration clause, this can be an argument to have it invalidated.
Unless there is evidence of fraud, misrepresentation, or a contract containing an arbitration clause is found to be unconscionable, it may be very difficult to get out of arbitration if it is called for in an agreement or contract. The Florida Supreme Court has even held that arbitration clauses that are signed by a person who later dies may be used to bind the person’s representatives to arbitration instead of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Therefore, when signing agreements, even if you may not have a chance to negotiate the terms, it is important to read the arbitration language closely to see what kinds of legal limitations may later exist.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured through the negligence of another person, and are concerned about having signed away or limited your rights to seek compensation through the judicial process, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney for guidance on your case. Contact the experienced Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Boone & Davis, PA, for a consultation today.