How You Could Be Signing Away Your Right to Trial by Jury Without Knowing

Jurors - Marietta Attorney

How You Could Be Signing Away Your Right to Trial by Jury Without Knowing

The right to trial by jury is vital to our country’s legal system. Our founding fathers revered the right to jury trial.  It was cited in the Declaration of Independence and in three separate places in the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, without knowing, consumers sign away that right on a daily basis.

It happens when consumers are buying a cell phone, borrowing money, signing a job contract, signing up for a credit card and much more. How is this happening? It is called a mandatory arbitration agreement. It is hidden in the tiny fine print in most of the consumer contracts that people never bother to read. This little legal agreement is one that could come back to haunt you in a big way.

What you are signing is basically an agreement waiving your right to a trial by jury and instead authorizing that if you have any conflict with the company, it must be settled through an arbitrator. Most of the time, this arbitrator is one selected by the company who you have the issue with.

What the company is basically doing, is trying to protect itself in case someone tried to take the company to court. It also is to protect the company from group of people trying to pursue a class action lawsuit against it which could cost the company big. These arbitration clauses in turn cost American consumers millions of dollars every year.

As a consumer your options are limited considering almost all companies use arbitration agreements. You can either do business with them or don’t. There is an option on some contracts which allows you to opt-out of the mandatory arbitration, but it usually gives the consumer additional work with a tight deadline. Another option is to reach out to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and sign an online petition from consumer groups working against mandatory arbitration.  Other groups that have online petitions include Save our Juries, Take Justice Back, Change.org and Public Citizen.

Because of jury verdicts or the threat of one, we have safer products and newer safety features, safer pools and premises, better safety warnings, cleaner and healthier food supplies.  Don’t sacrifice your rights to save these companies money when they have done wrong.

Source: USA Today, Save Our Juries

 

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