Study: Many large companies avoid lawsuits with arbitration agreements

Study: Many large companies avoid lawsuits with arbitration agreements

(WWBT/WXIX) - If a product hurts you, or you’re ripped off, you might want to sue to cover those medical bills or get your money back.

A new study, however, finds that most Americans have signed away that right when it comes to America’s biggest companies.

The study, published in the UC Davis’ Law Review, says 81 of the 100 biggest companies now have policies that prevent customers from getting their day in court for everything from fraud or personal injury to harassment or discrimination.

Some of the companies with so-called “arbitration agreements” include Amazon, Apple, Walmart, CVS and Best Buy, as well as many cable companies, cell providers, banks and credit card companies.

Those clauses are usually hidden in the terms of service. When you buy something, or fill out an application, you’re asked to click accept on those terms.

Even if you bother to read the fine print, and most people don’t, you may not understand it. You’re agreeing to go to arbitration, which is a private process that does not involve courts, judges or juries.

There’s no appeals process, so the arbitrator’s decision is nearly always final.

Companies say this is more cost-effective than lawsuits.

Studies show that few consumers win in arbitration. When they do, they get much less money than they would in court.

If you’re going to give up a right like this, you need to understand that before you sign or click “accept.”

Always read that fine print and ask questions, if you don’t understand it.

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