Don’t Sign on the Dotted Line Without Reading This
At a recent conference I attended, a former state Supreme Court Justice was speaking about the proliferation of arbitration. This trick is a common tactic used by businesses as a way to limit liability. A business that offers services or sells a product attempts to limit their liability by forcing a person to agree to arbitration, a system that is fixed in favor of the business and against the consumer.
If you are not familiar with the terminology, you may not know what you are signing even when it comes across the desk to you.
As personal injury lawyers and car accident lawyers, we want to make sure you have the information you need to make informed decisions. Consider this key information about arbitration agreements the next time you find yourself, pen in hand.
What is an Arbitration Agreement?
An arbitration agreement is a signed contract that makes the signer agree to bring any legal claims against a business or employer to arbitration, rather that filing a lawsuit. This means that instead of having a legal matter decided by a judge and jury, an arbitrator is tasked with making the final decision on any dispute.
This practice heavily favors the place of business and can often be a disadvantage to the individuals who sign the contract.
Statistics on Arbitration Agreements
According to the American Arbitration Association, there are some interesting statistics that seem to reinforce my thought that arbitration agreements tend to favor businesses. Here are some basic analytics based upon 16,089 consumer cases filed after January 1, 2003 to date.
Consumers filed almost half of the cases listed. This is likely because consumers were dissatisfied or did not approve of a product or service offered by a place of business.
The types of disputes, were again, mostly in the consumer category, with 53 percent. It seems that in the majority of cases, consumers file due to dissatisfaction with a product or service.
The prevailing party in the majority of the cases turned out to be the business, at 70 percent. Supporting the notion that arbitration agreements heavily support business, which is likely why so many businesses try to use them in upfront contract negotiations.
What One Judge Suggested You Sign Instead
What this former justice suggested is nothing short of brilliant. The form typically requires you to print your name and then sign your name. Instead of signing your name, he writes out, in cursive “I don’t agree”. He cannot guarantee that this will work, but it is worth a shot. Most of the time, the employee will not examine the signature. The business is trying to get something by you in small print, and you are just returning the favor. Brilliant!
Should You Sign An Arbitration Agreement?
Not all arbitration agreements are mandatory, so if you have the choice, try to avoid signing them. Based on the statistics cited above, it is in your best interest NOT to sign an arbitration agreement because if a dispute arises, you have a 30 percent change of winning the dispute against a place of business.
Do these statistics surprise you? Tell us what you think!
If you find yourself stuck with an arbitration agreement after a car accident or personal injury, consider filling out a free case evaluation and talking with a personal injury attorney today. You’ll see the difference when you have the opportunity to talk directly with an expert Milwaukee personal injury lawyer.
At Murphy & Prachthauser we practice personal injury law the way it should be practiced – motivated and equipped to do our best for you. We take pride in being good lawyers who help people.
If you have a personal injury case or car accident case you would like to speak to a Milwaukee personal injury lawyer about, please contact us to schedule a free consultation and get an experienced team working on your behalf.