Arbitration clauses are sneaky little things that have cropped up in all sorts of agreements. Whether you take out a gym membership, sign up for a yoga class, participate in a sporting event, or anything else that requires you to sign any paperwork, you may inadvertently be signing away your right to sue for damages if you suffer a personal injury.
However, all may not be as it seems. Even if you suddenly find out after a serious injury due to faulty equipment that your gym membership included an arbitration agreement, you may still have the ability to sue -- and you definitely need the services of a personal injury law firm.
Make sure that the arbitration clause is even enforceable.
Arbitration clauses became so common and overused that the courts gradually got wise to the fact that companies were using them to evade their responsibility for even the most outrageous acts of negligence. Since the odds are high that you didn't even realize that there was an arbitration agreement in your contract with the gym, health care facility, sports team, ski resort, or other organization, take the agreement to an attorney to have it reviewed.
The courts have found some arbitration agreements to be so blatantly one-sided, harsh, or restrictive that they are considered unenforceable. Their only real value is to bully and scare injury victims into agreeing to arbitration or a poor settlement because they think they don't have any other options. It takes an experienced legal eye, however, to know when a court is likely to find an arbitration agreement invalid.
If you do have to go to arbitration, your attorney can help protect your rights.
If the arbitration clause is valid, and you have to go through with it, you should still have a personal injury lawyer representing your interests.
Normally, each side has an opportunity to present his or her case to the arbitrator. While the procedure is generally more relaxed than that of a courtroom, and the rules of evidence are generally also less restrictive, the arbitrator is most likely a retired judge or an attorney. Another attorney can quickly present your evidence in the best light possible for your case. You can bet that the other side will have an attorney there to present their case -- so don't try to handle the situation on your own.
Whatever you do, don't throw in the towel if you're confronted with an arbitration clause. You may have to fight a little harder for fair compensation for your injuries, but it is possible to win. For more information, contact a personal injury law firm such as Campbell Barnett PLLC.Share