Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 29, 2019

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J. Niley Dorit, a California medical malpractice attorney offers answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs):

Question: How does the Kaiser Permanente process differ from filing a traditional medical malpractice lawsuit?

Answer: When a Kaiser patient is injured, instead of filing suit in one of the California courts, what they’re required to do is initiate a written claim and pay a fee directly to Kaiser. That starts a private arbitration process, so the claims never actually go through the court system. They go through a private, independent administrator of arbitration claims.

Question: Is arbitration required to settle disputes with Kaiser Permanente?

Answer: Yes. When you sign up for Kaiser healthcare coverage, part of the agreement you sign is that if there are disputes about the care that you receive, then you give up your right to go to court and present your case to a jury. You have to go through their arbitration system. There are some minor exceptions to that, but those are relatively rare.

Question: Do most Kaiser patients understand that arbitration is required?

Answer:The majority of Kaiser Permanente medical and hospital malpractice victims that call our office seem to have an understanding that they’re going to have to go through an arbitration process. I don’t think they’re aware of that when they first sign up for Kaiser. I think that when there’s a problem, because Kaiser is the largest healthcare provider in California, if they begin to talk to friends or family about it, usually somebody will pipe up before they get to a lawyer and tell them that they need to go through arbitration instead of court.

Unfortunately, Kaiser patients sometimes think that they’re not allowed to make claims because they can’t go to court or that the Kaiser arbitration system is one that will not be helpful to them, and in fact, that’s not true.