A shift is happening in the medical community. Increasingly, medical groups are being acquired by private equity firms. These equity firms are creating vast medical networks and bringing with them a legal practice that is popular in the financial sector, binding arbitration in New Jersey.
Increasingly, patients are being asked to sign binding arbitration agreements before they can receive care. A patient who signs a binding arbitration agreement waives his or her right to a jury trial in a New Jersey court.
Arbitration is a much different process than a trial. In arbitration, the defendant (the medical practice’s owner) and the plaintiff (the patient) each choose an arbitrator, plus there is a third arbitrator chosen who is not affiliated with either side. Unlike a trial, which is public, arbitration is usually private, decisions are final and might not be explained by the arbitrators.
Binding arbitration saves firms money
There are reasons why private equity firms like binding arbitration. Amounts are likely to be much less than jury trial awards, attorneys’ fees are lower due to the relative speed of arbitration and there is much less public visibility. While private equity firms may find binding arbitration attractive, many patients and even some doctors do not like it. Doctors sometimes want a public trial so they can defend themselves and reclaim their reputations. To encourage binding arbitration between patients and providers, the insurance industry has been enticing medical groups with better terms.
If you signed a binding arbitration agreement and received negligent care or experienced some other form of medical malpractice, you may have questions about arbitration. For instance, you may not know how to find an arbiter to represent you or how you can advocate for the settlement amount you need. An attorney with a background in medical malpractice can explain arbitration and give you a sense of how the process works.