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.
Can I represent myself in Kaiser Arbitration for Medical Malpractice?
Some people attempt to represent themselves in Kaiser’s arbitration system, but the great majority of them are unsuccessful. Kaiser typically disposes of these cases, known as “in pro per,” by filing a complex “summary judgment” motion that will cause the case to be decided in advance. Responding to a summary judgment motion requires declarations from medical experts, and many other things which are beyond the abilities of most non-lawyers. Some Kaiser cases can be removed from the Kaiser arbitration system, due to court rulings that the forms Kaiser used for years were legally defective, in failing to correctly highlight the arbitration agreement and waiver of the right to a jury trial. Kaiser will normally fight the removal attempt in a court hearing.
What are the Odds of Winning a Kaiser Arbitration?
In Kaiser arbitration cases, the neutral arbitrator–who typically is the sole judge of the case–can be chosen cooperatively, or in the “strike and rank” process, which is something like ranked-choice voting. If a fair neutral arbitrator is selected, this can make for better odds of winning than the case would have in front of a jury in some California counties. Many attorneys believe that Kaiser will “blackball” arbitrators who have ruled against them.
Can I Sue Kaiser in California for Medical Malpractice?
Depending on the county in which your case would land if it were removed from the Kaiser system, however, you may not want to go to court, even if you can. Other advantages of arbitration are the certainty of the date, the more comfortable, private setting, and the shorter hearing time. The arbitrator selection process, though, can be lengthy and contentious, and a large number of the attorneys and retired judges who are certified to take Kaiser cases are perceived as biased in Kaiser’s favor. In most cases, Kaiser pays the entire fee of the arbitrator.
Does Kaiser Arbitration Take Longer than a Court Case?
Between the time a Kaiser case starts and the hearing date, the “discovery” phase of the case is virtually the same as a in a court case. This means that records are subpoenaed, depositions are taken, written questions under oath–called interrogatories–are submitted, etc. The hearing for a Kaiser arbitration case will be in a private office, with everyone sitting around a table. Unlike a court case, only the parties and witnesses are allowed to attend and observe the hearing. The arbitrator then “takes the case under submission,” and the wait, which can last several weeks, for the decision begins.
What’s the Statute of Limitation for Kaiser Arbitration?
Kaiser malpractice cases are subject to the same statute of limitations that apply to non-Kaiser cases, and the same pre-trial discovery rules. California law provides that, for adults, medical malpractice cases must be commenced within one year of the victim’s discovery of the malpractice, but, irrespective of the date of discovery, within three years of the time the malpractice occurred. Even this three-year outer limit can be subject to certain exceptions. The time limit to initiate your case can be extended under certain circumstances by sending a “Notice of Intent” letter to Kaiser. Calculating California medical malpractice time limits can be complex, and you should consult an attorney as soon as possible for legal advice.
Contact an Attorney for Kaiser Medical Malpractice
Contact one of our attorneys experienced at handling Kaiser malpractice cases now at 415-541-0300.