Should a Physician Accept an Arbitration Clause?
Arbitration involves the submission of a dispute to a neutral party who hears the case and renders a decision. Arbitration takes the place of a trial before a judge or jury. A doctor that signs a contract that has an arbitration clause, gives up the right to go to court.
The most common form of an arbitration clause is one that can be found in any contract negotiation. What are the benefits to this? Arbitration agreements, typically a clause or provision within contracts which oblige parties with disputes they wish not to head back into court for settlement, reduce time and money spent on legal fees by both sides as well as help keep personal information private from other aspects of society who may have an interest in these details.
An arbitration agreement is often included at the beginning stages when drafting larger documents such as employment contracts and consumer deals because it helps lay out all possible matters before them beforehand so there’s less chance for disputation between either party later down the line about clauses not related but still present nonetheless.
Arbitration clauses often appear as “fine print” in lengthy standard contracts, but they are important for any business to include. Often times people sign the clause without realizing it because of how small and hidden arbitration agreements can be at first glance within a contract. Businesses should always make sure that their employees or customers know what kind of clause they are signing before doing so—especially when it comes down to something like dispute resolution methods which could cost them far more than if an employee simply received proper training on time management skills!
What to Expect at an Arbitration for a Medical Provider?
An arbitration hearing is less formal and customarily shorter than a trial before a judge or jury. Each party presents their version of the facts, offering witnesses and documents in a way that is like a trial, but the rules of evidence and other court procedures generally do not apply. After considering the evidence, the arbitrator renders a decision.
As compared to a court trial, binding arbitration is relatively inexpensive and brief. The courts usually refuse to overturn arbitrated decisions and can step in if necessary so that parties are able move forward with final outcomes while avoiding public scrutiny associated with the courtroom process. The benefits of an arbitration as opposed to litigation include confidentiality which provides for more peaceful settlements, less time spent on preparing cases because there’s no jury involved, lower costs than those incurred by litigants who have their own attorneys or outside counsel attended depositions/arbitrations related tasks.
Arbitration allows for more creative rulings than civil courts can issue. For example, if you sue your former employer for wrongful termination the court could award damages but an arbitrator may order to reinstate you instead of giving monetary compensation or stopping it all together and leaving employees without any redress whatsoever.
Benefits of Arbitration
- Quick Resolution
- Simplified discovery and rules of evidence
- Generally, less expensive
Drawbacks of Arbitration
You may wonder why you should care where your claims get heard, as long as they are heard somewhere. An arbitration differs from a court case in several ways and many of these differences work against employees. Most important is the fact that an arbitrator hears both sides while most cases only have one side present their story to a jury with no chance for rebuttal or cross examination which makes it more difficult to win than just presenting evidence by yourself – not being able to question witnesses removes some opportunities because there’s less opportunity for clarification on testimony. Juries often take pity on employee defendants (though sometimes this can be bad), but again without having any input from counterparty along with lack of questioning & chances at refutation.
In contrast to the court system, arbitration limits both parties from accessing too much information about each other’s case. This is usually more beneficial for employers because they are in possession of most documents and data relating to an employee’s situation at work; however, this can be detrimental as well if a worker has been wrongfully terminated or unfairly compensated. The arbitrator cannot rule on his/her own decision which makes it less appealing than going through trial with a higher authority that could potentially overrule previous verdicts- but still leaves the opportunity open.
In comparison with trials by courts, employment cases go into arbitration limiting either side access to vital records such as those belonging only to one party making them advantageous towards said employer who would have all relevant info pertaining
- No appeals
- No jury
- Lack of transparency
Is an Arbitration Agreement Fair for the Physician?
Overall, yes, arbitration is fair for both parties. Most physicians prefer to avoid long drawn-out litigation and arbitration can be resolved much faster than litigation.
In an arbitration, a trained professional arbitrator will act as your judge. Unlike with traditional legal procedures, the ground rules for this process are up to negotiation between both parties involved in the dispute; even judges can be retired from their careers and serve on cases at times!
In contrast to high-stress litigation or mediation sessions where arguments often fall back on what has been said before by one party or another out of desperation rather than any true progress being made towards resolution, here you get a chance to start fresh every time.
Arbitration clauses are often included in employment contracts, and consumers may find themselves vulnerable to them. In arbitration lingo, repeat players are parties that frequently participate in arbitrations to avoid lawsuits. By contrast one-shot players typically have little experience with the process of arbitration which can leave them open for exploitation by corporations looking out for their best interests rather than those of individual customers or employees now involved in a dispute with company representatives.
Should You Sign?
Should you sign an arbitration clause? This is a question that requires careful consideration on your part. If you agree to engage in possible future arbitration voluntarily, mutually determine the ground rules of arbitration and select impartial arbitrators together, it will likely be inexpensive, fast and fair for both parties involved. However if there’s any pressure from one party or another to coerce into signing such agreements then I would advise consulting with legal counsel before going forward as this might not end well for either party down the road when they’re debating whether or not their case should have been subjectively judged by someone who wasn’t actually trained in law like yourself was (or are).
Physician Employment Contract Review
Contracts are a pervasive and obligatory part of nearly all company and legal transactions. Well-drafted contracts help to enumerate the responsibilities of the involved parties, divide liabilities, protect legal rights, and insure future relationship statuses. These touchstones are even more crucial when applying their roles to the case of a provider employed by a hospital, medical group, or other health care provider. While contract drafting and negotiation can be a long and arduous process, legal representation is a must in order to ensure that your rights are being protected.
The present-day conclusion is simple: A provider should not enter into any contract without having the clause reviewed by legal counsel.
There is simply too much at risk for a provider to take contract matters into their own hands. In addition to the specific professional implications, contract terms can significantly impact a provider’s family, lifestyle, and future. There are many important contract terms and clauses which can present complex and diverse issues for any provider, including:
- Non-compete clauses
- Verbal guarantees
- Insurance statements
Additionally, often times the most influential terms and clauses in any employment contract are the ones that are not present. With the advent of productivity based employment agreements it is imperative that any provider have employment agreements reviewed before it is executed. Attorney Robert Chelle has practical experience drafting and reviewing provider contracts for nearly every specialty.
New residents, attending doctors, doctors entering into their first employment contract or established doctors looking for new employment can all benefit from a thorough contract review. By employing an experienced attorney for your representation, you can insure that you will be able to fully understand the extensive and complex wording included in your contract. By having a full and complete understanding of the contract, you will be in a better position to make your own decision on whether or not you want to enter into the agreement which will affect your career life for years to come.
The financial benefits gained from having your contract reviewed and negotiated by an experienced healthcare attorney far outweigh the costs associated with a review. You are a valuable resource, and you should be treated and respected as such. Attorney Robert Chelle will personally dedicate his time to make sure that your are fully protected and will assist you in the contract process so that your interests are fairly represented.
Every contract is unique. However, nearly all contracts for health care providers should contain several essential terms. If these essential terms in the contract are not spelled out in contracts, disputes can arise when there is a disagreement between the parties as to the details of the specific term. For instance, if the provider is expecting to work Monday through Thursday and the employer is expecting the provider to work Monday through Friday, but the specific workdays are absent from the Agreement; who prevails?
Physician Contract Checklist Including Malpractice from Patients
Spelling out the details of your job is crucial to avoid contract conflicts during the term of your employment. Below is a checklist of essential terms that contracts should contain (and a brief explanation of each term):
- Practice Services Offered: What are the clinical patient care duties? Are you given time for review of administrative tasks? How many patients are you expected to see (like in pediatrics)? Is there nursing assitance?
- Outside Activities: Are you permitted to pursue moonlighting or locum tenens opportunities? Do you need permission from the employer before you accept those practice of medicine related positions?
- Practice Call Schedule: How often are you on call (after hours office call, hospital call (if applicable))?
- Base Compensation: What is the annual base salary? What is the pay period frequency? Does the base compensation increase over the term of the Agreement? Is there an annual review or quarterly review of compensation?
- Productivity Compensation: If there is productivity compensation; how is it calculated (wRVU, net collections, patient encounters, etc.)? Is there an annual review?
- Paid Time Off: How much time off does the job offer? What is the split between vacation, sick days, CME attendance and holidays? Is there a HR guide?
- Continuing Medical Education (CME): What is the annual allowance for CME expenses and how much time off is offered?
- Dues and Fees: Which financial expenses are covered (board licensing, DEA registration, privileging, AMA membership, Board review)?
- Relocation Assistance: Is relocation assistance offered? What are the repayment obligations if the Agreement is terminated prior to the expiration of the initial term?
- Signing Bonus: Is an employee signing bonus offered? When is it paid? Do you have to pay it back if you leave before the initial term is completed? Are student loans paid back? Is there a forgiveness period for student loans?
- Medical Malpractice Insurance: What type of liability insurance (malpractice) is offered: claims made, occurrence, self-insurance?
- Tail Insurance: If tail insurance is necessary, who is responsible to pay for it when the Agreement is terminated?
- Without Cause Termination: How much notice is required for either party to terminate the Agreement without case?
- Practice Post Termination Payment Obligations: Will you receive production bonuses after the Agreement is terminated?
- Non-Compete: How long does the non-compete last and what is the prohibited geographic scope?
- Financial Retirement: Is a financial retirement plan offered?
- Non-Solicitation: How long does it last and does it cover employees, patients, and business associates?
- Notice: How is notice given? Via hand delivery, email, US mail, etc.? Does it have to be provided to the employer’s attorney?
- Practice Assignment: Can the Agreement be assigned by the employer?
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: If there is a conflict regarding the contract, will mediation or arbitration process be utilized? What is the standard attorney review process for conflict? Who decides which attorney oversees the process?
If you have questions about arbitration or are interested in having your employment agreement reviewed by a lawyer contact Chelle Law today.