There have been many times in my personal injury practice when I and my client and the defendant agree to arbitrate a case. In this article I will discuss what arbitration is and how it can help some personal injury claims get resolved.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a legal alternative to filing a lawsuit and going to court. The hearing is usually conducted by one or more agreed-upon arbitrators who are usually members of the legal profession. During an arbitration, like a trial, evidence is presented, arguments made, witnesses are called, etc. When all of that is completed, the arbitrator(s) delivers a decision within a specified period of time.
There are three types of arbitration – binding, advisory and non-binding.
Binding Arbitration: Binding arbitration is very similar to going to court and having a trial. Both parties agree to abide by the final rulings of the arbitrator(s). In my practice, the parties usually involved in binding arbitration are my client and the insurance company representing the person or company who caused the personal injury accident.
Advisory Arbitration: Advisory Arbitration is held to give both sides an idea of what will happen if the case goes to trial, or help them decide whether to agree in the future to a binding arbitration. This can be helpful in seeing the strengths and weaknesses of a case and how and if a future settlement may be reached.
Non-Binding Arbitration: Non-binding arbitration is advisory in nature unless or until it becomes binding. This type of arbitration may become binding with a passage of time if neither party requests further proceedings.
Why arbitration is useful
Arbitration is very much like a trial, except it is faster and much cheaper. It is less formal, and less demanding regarding rules, evidentiary matters and procedures. Another benefit is that the proceedings are not usually part of the public records and the details can be kept confidential.
In my personal injury practice, we may agree to use the method of arbitration when negligence is agreed upon by both parties, but a monetary settlement is still not.
Arbitration is a good solution for some personal injury cases, but not all. It is a judicial procedure that enables two opposing parties to come to an agreement.
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