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Trials vs. Arbitrations in Medical Malpractice Claims

Saturday, December, 29, 2012


There are some similarities between trials and arbitration proceedings in medical malpractice disputes.  One of the most important similarities to note is that they are both legally binding—whatever the judge or arbitrator decides is a decision that will be legally upheld in any court of law.  Another similarity between the two is that they are both similar in format.  In a trial or an arbitration hearing, both sides will be given the opportunity to issue opening statements, call witnesses, present evidence and present closing arguments.  However, beyond these two points, the similarities between litigation and arbitration for medical malpractice claims end.

Some of the differences between the two, however, are the reasons that arbitration is a preferred course of action in many medical malpractice disputes.  For example, one of the primary differences is the degree of confidentiality involved in arbitration versus litigation.  In medical malpractice suits, both sides have real incentive to not have their dispute made public.  For the doctor or hospital, whose brand image and reputation are vital in maintaining business and clientele, the confidentiality of arbitration can mean the difference between staying in business and not staying in business.  For the patient or client, the private nature of medical services that have been rendered is not something that he or she wants revealed to the world—and this is exactly what happens if a case is litigated and made a matter of public record.

The other significant difference between medical malpractice arbitration and litigation is the cost-saving and time-saving benefit of arbitration compared to the enormous time and expense that usually incurs for both parties in a litigation proceeding.  Where a trial can be stalled by a seemingly-endless road of motions and hearings, an arbitration hearing happens much quicker and costs much less for all parties involved.