Your Rights Against Kaiser
If you believe you were the victim of medical malpractice because of the neglect or misconduct of a doctor, physician or other medical provider at Kaiser, you may be surprised to learn that your agreement with Kaiser precludes you from filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in superior court. Instead, you will be forced to litigate your case in an arbitration setting. This is true for members who treat at a Kaiser in Los Angeles or any of the satellite Kaiser medical centers throughout Southern California.
The Kaiser Arbitration Process
An Arbitration is a legal process in which a neutral, usually a former attorney or judge, presides over litigation and ultimately hears the evidence and rules on the issues. It is the Arbitrator, not a jury, who will render a decision. Kaiser has a panel of approved Arbitrators, and the Kaiser member must select from this approved list.
Arbitration v. Mediation
An Arbitrationis different from a Mediation. In a Mediation, the mediator, also a neutral third party, facilitates settlement discussions between the parties. However, unlike an arbitrator, a Mediator does not rule on any issues or render any awards. Typically, Mediations are voluntary, and it is common for a mediation to occur within the context of a Kaiser Arbitration. That means, parties to a Kaiser arbitration may have an opportunity to resolve their disputes at a mediation prior to the Arbitration hearing.
Limitation of Actions
Arbitrations against Kaiser are regulated by the same California laws that apply to ordinary medical malpractice lawsuits. As a result, claims against Kaiser doctors anywhere in Los Angeles or Southern California are limited by the MICRA (Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act). This Act requires that an injured patient send a notice of intent to sue to a doctor within 1 year of discovery of an injury caused by the malpractice. (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.5). In addition, there are limits on the amount of damages that can be recovered in a medical malpractice case including Kaiser Arbitrations.
We at Heimanson & Wolf, LLP recognize the difficulties with these Kaiser arbitrations and medical malpractice lawsuits in general, and we strive to ensure that each of our clients obtain full compensation for the medical injuries they have suffered.