You’ve probably heard of arbitration, but do you know how it can help protect you? First, I will explain what arbitration is. I will then cover how it can help protect you. Make sure to listen until the end, and I will tell you how arbitration can save you money.
Arbitration is an alternative to court, where claims can be heard. When patients sign arbitration agreements, your patients are agreeing that, if in the future they want to bring claims against you, those claims will be heard in arbitration rather than in court. Instead of the malpractice case being heard by a judge or jury, the case will be heard by an arbitrator. The arbitrator is usually a retired judge who specializes in malpractice.
There are a number of benefits to arbitration. Arbitration is more private. Instead of taking place in an open court room, arbitration typically occurs at an alternative dispute center in a conference room. You would still be represented by an attorney and would still have the opportunity to testify. You would also have the right to have expert witnesses testify to support you. Your lawyer would be able to cross-examine the patient and the patient’s experts. While the process is similar to going to court, it tends to be much quicker. Many courthouses are so busy that it can take several years before a judge will be available to hear the case. Arbitration can be scheduled much sooner. This benefits you, because then you so not have the stress of an open case for several years.
Another benefit of arbitration is that the case is heard by an experienced arbitrator, who understands malpractice cases, rather than a jury. Juries can be swayed by emotion and can come back with huge verdicts, even when the science does not support you did anything wrong.
It is important to have a well-written arbitration agreement. You can contact us at AAC and we will be happy to provide you with one. Once you have the agreement, you should have all new and existing patients sign it.You can tell patients that your office has new paperwork that they need to complete. Most patients are accustomed to signing these agreements and will not have any questions.Interestingly, studies have shown that patients who refuse to sign arbitration agreements are substantially more likely to bring a claim against you in the future. This makes sense, since they’re already thinking about how to bring a claim before anything has even happened. You may want to consider not treating those patients.Now, as promised, I will tell you how you can save money on your malpractice premiums. AAC offers a discount on malpractice premiums if you have all patients sign an arbitration agreement and informed consent. Give us a call, so that we can give you a quote and see if we can save you money. We look forward to hearing from you.