We’ve all seen arbitration agreements and I bet all of us have agreed to arbitration instead of exercising our rights to the court system but the question is why? Why as a society are we willing to give up our right to the court system? Why are we willing to give up the right to have juries/our peers judge our grievances and why are corporations so insistent on these arbitration clauses?
The most recent example of corporations asserting an arbitration clause in a massive way was Pokemon Go. Ever since Pokemon Go’s introduction to the public, people have started wandering around getting hurt, exposing themselves to crime, and finding dead bodies.
The law has had to evolve as society changes, and a host of legal issues have arisen that courts are just beginning to hash out. Look no further than the Match.com murder lawsuit and the Google Maps pedestrian accident case. If a Pokemon Go user is injured, or attacked, or lulled into trespassing, could there be liability? I don’t know. Nobody does. We can speculate generally about the companies liability, but the actual answers have to wait for our judicial system to catch up.
Maybe you’re thinking, only an idiot would get hurt playing Pokemon Go or these frivolous lawsuits are destroying America.I firmly believe you’re wrong but we can discuss that later. Right now reading this, are you so sure that you want to waive your right to use the court system forever?
Maybe you are. That’s fine. But bear in mind you’re not just waiving the right to sue over injuries, you’re also waiving the right to participate in class actions brought by others. If a service you’re using has all of your personal information stolen by hackers, and there’s a class action, you’re out of luck. If an app systematically cheats you on in-app purchases, and there’s a class action, you’re out of luck. Your only remedy is arbitration. Companies use arbitration clauses because there’s a risk of them being sued and being held responsible for something. They are afraid of a jury rightfully compensating the injured.
The moral of the story, is that you don’t want to cut off options open to you before you have to, it’s best to opt out of arbitration clauses whenever possible. Your future self might not care but it’s a risk that simply has no upside for those being asked to take it.