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California Kaiser Malpractice Claims – Do You Have to Arbitrate?

Not sure about your odds of winning in Kaiser arbitration? Most Kaiser medical malpractice claims in San Francisco and the Bay Area are normally heard in a private arbitration, rather than proceeding in court.

In California, most Kaiser Permanente medical malpractice claims are normally heard in a private arbitration, rather than proceeding in court. This is due to the Kaiser arbitration agreement, which calls for arbitration in Kaiser’s own system, under their own rules. Arbitration is a system where cases are heard with the same procedural rules as a court trial, but in a private setting, before an arbitrator, or panel of three arbitrators, who serve as the judge.

What Are Your Odds of Suing Kaiser and Winning?

The Kaiser malpractice arbitration system is overseen by an independent office. The independent administrator was set up after a notorious case where Kaiser delayed even choosing an arbitrator so long that the claimant died before the case could proceed, cutting Kaiser’s liability substantially. Now, recent California court decisions have found that the forms Kaiser used until recently are invalid, for failing to comply with strict legal requirements that apply to waiver of the right to a jury trial. So for many people with malpractice claims against Kasier in Northern California, there is a choice: proceed under the Kaiser arbitration system for a malpractice claim, or sue in court.

How The Kaiser Permanente Arbitration System Works

The choice often will be heavily influenced by the venue of the case-the county in which a court case would be heard. If the venue is a big urban area such as Alameda County or San Francisco, lawyers agree that there is a much greater chance of getting jurors who are willing to find for a person suing a doctor or Kaiser. The individual facts of the case will also be part of the decision. The conventional wisdom is that in arbitration, even a victory will often be a compromise, compared to what a sympathetic jury might award. The Kaiser arbitration system draws from a panel of about 250 lawyers and judges, and many of these people are perceived as wanting to please Kaiser, such that attorneys for claimants would not see them as fair. Often it is a struggle getting a reasonable arbitrator in the Kaiser system.

The question of whether to opt out of the Kaiser arbitration system for malpractice cases is one that will be largely, if not completely made by the attorney handling the case, but one that must be understood and approved by the client.

Kaiser Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice cases against Kaiser are typically processed in Kaiser’s arbitration system, rather than a case in court. This system has its own rules for selecting an arbitrator (judge) or panel of three arbitrators, to hear the case. Due to abusive delays on Kaiser’s part in the past, the Kaiser arbitration system is now run by an independent administrator. The rules and procedures for Kaiser arbitrations can be found at the Kaiser administrator’s website.

Talk to An Attorney About Your Kaiser Case

The San Francisco medical malpractice lawyers at Callaway & Wolf have many years of experience handling Kaiser malpractice cases. Contact us now to discuss your potential Kaiser case. Request a free consultation by calling 415-541-0300.

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