The last time you purchased a new electronic device, a large appliance, airline tickets, or signed a contract with a doctor or contractor for services, did you read the contract you signed? The contract probably explained what you were buying along with any warranty information. And somewhere in the middle or end, there was probably an “arbitration clause”. An arbitration clause means that if you have a problem with the goods or service you contracted to purchase, you have contracted for the method to settle those disputes: you are agreeing to bring your case to an arbitrator and waive your right to your day in court.
Arbitration is considered a form of alternative dispute resolution and many Los Angeles businesses require consumers to arbitrate claims because it can be cheaper than defending a case before a judge in state or federal court. It can also be faster, because by working with a private arbitrator (who is usually a retired judge or lawyer), you are not subject to the same constraints as the court would be in terms of scheduling. However, it is not always the best option for you, the innocent consumer.
Recently, the United States Supreme Court has issued several pro-business decisions enforcing arbitration clauses that could have been considered abusive or excessive (because of the terms of the arbitration). Consumers, do not fret. Several courts have recently issued decisions refusing to enforce arbitration clauses in situations where a corporation decides to litigate a case in court first and then later decides to take the case to arbitration.
Arbitration clauses are not always enforceable in California. If you believe that the arbitration clause you were ‘forced’ to sign was unreasonable or unethical or just plain illegal and denies you of your legal rights, you need to reach out to an experienced consumer rights attorney. Sometimes we sign contracts or agreements that we do not fully understand. While this does not necessarily clear you of responsibility, you do have a right to know if document you signed affected your legal rights.
The aggressive consumer rights attorneys at BIKLAW have vigorously fought for justice on behalf of their clients for over ten years. For more information on how to defend your rights and / or recover compensation for an injury you suffered at the hands of a corporation or individual, contact them today.