Reclaiming Your Life after a Devastating Accident

Choosing Mediation or Arbitration for Your Malpractice Case

by Stacy Dean

When you're a victim in a medical malpractice suit, it can feel like everything is against you. Not only are you trying to heal and recover from your medical issues, you're also left having to sort out the details of how to deal with the case and the mistakes that your medical provider made. Here are a few tips to help you determine if you should consider mediation or arbitration as part of your lawsuit.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is an opportunity for you and the medical professional to sit down with your legal teams outside of court to negotiate your settlement. There's a neutral third party, called a mediator, who helps to discuss and address any issues that arise. If you're looking to settle out of court but you still want to have some control over how the case is settled, this may be the best option for you. Your lawyer can help you understand what to expect of your mediation process based on the specifics of your case.

What Is Arbitration?

Like mediation, arbitration also happens outside of the courtroom. However, it's not handled the same way. You won't get the chance to sit down with the other party and make your case, ask questions, or discuss anything. Instead, the arbitration process is handled similar to that of court. The arbitrator, usually selected as a mutual agreement between you and the other party, will gather all of the evidence, statements, motions, and other paperwork, review it all independently, and then make a determination on the case. In most situations, the arbitrator's determination is final and cannot be appealed except under very limited circumstances.

Why Choose One Over The Other?

If you're trying to keep the case from going to court, you may be trying to decide which of these paths would be the best option for you. In the case of a medical malpractice suit, you may actually find that arbitration is easiest because it saves you having to appear for either court or mediation. When you're recovering from a medical procedure, that can be an important factor.

However, you may not like the idea of not actually being able to pitch your case or face the doctor who is responsible. In that kind of situation, you may find mediation to be a better option. Further, mediation isn't binding, so if you don't come to an agreement, you can still take the case to court. That's not the case with arbitration. So if you're concerned about leaving the fate of the case in the hands of an arbitrator, you might prefer mediation over arbitration.

For more information, contact a firm such as R.J. Marzella & Associates, P.C.