There can be nothing more devastating than the sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one. Family members can be overwhelmed by feelings of loss, guilty and anger after losing someone, and the situation can only be exacerbated when families have to deal with medical bills, funeral expenses and other costs that can result from a tragic loss.
In many cases, it is possible for spouses, parents or children of the victim to take action against the person or party responsible for the wrongful death to pursue compensation and legal responsibility. However, it can be a confusing and frustrating process, particularly if a forced arbitration clause is in place.
But what is forced arbitration, and how might it affect families in Atlanta who want to hold a company accountable for misconduct that causes injury or death?
Forced arbitration clauses generally appear in contracts, on warning labels and service agreements that many of us have seen a thousand times but may not have read closely. Often in the fine print, the clause essentially states that the consumer agrees that any dispute over the product or service will not be heard in court, but rather will go through arbitration. You may not even realize you have agreed to this, but in many cases, you have just by purchasing a product.
This type of arbitration can work against victims and their families in many ways. Not only does arbitration take away the person’s right to trial by jury and discovery, but the proceedings are often held wherever the company decides to hold them and are heard by arbitrators generally chosen by the company. All of these factors, in addition to the cost of arbitration, can make a person feel powerless and less inclined to bring a lawsuit against the company.
However, it is important to remember that just because a person “agrees” to an arbitration clause, that does not mean they should not pursue a claim. And in some cases, arbitration clauses can be challenged and thrown out. But no matter what legal action a person is considering after the loss of a loved one, it can be important to speak with an attorney to explore options through litigation, mediation or arbitration.
Source: American Association for Justice, “License to Steal: How the U.S. Chamber Forced Arbitration on America,” Oct. 2013