|How does the arbitration process work?|
In agreeing to arbitration, the parties agree to give up their constitutional right to have any potential medical malpractice claim resolved in court. Instead, all medical malpractice claims are resolved by a panel of three arbitrators. The process starts with a notice from one party to the other demanding arbitration. The patient and the physician would each name one person to serve as an arbitrator. An arbitrator is like a judge, in that he or she listens to the evidence presented by both sides and decides whether malpractice occurred. These two arbitrators would pick a third arbitrator. This panel of three arbitrators would then set up rules about the witnesses and evidence each side could present, and they would set up a schedule for the arbitration. If necessary, the arbitrators could issue subpoenas to compel witnesses to appear at the hearing or to obtain documents or other evidence. At the arbitration hearing, each party will be represented by their own attorney. Each party will have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses, and cross-examine the other party’s witnesses. All three arbitrators would listen to the evidence and participate in the decision. They would apply the same law that a court would apply, but the procedural rules are more relaxed and the hearing is less formal than a trial. Based on the evidence and the law, the arbitrators could award any amount or kind of damages that a court could award.