Do you know the difference between arbitration and mediation when settling a personal injury claim?


There have been many times in my personal injury practice when I and my client and the defendant agree to mediate or arbitrate a personal injury case. In this article I will discuss the difference between mediation and arbitration as legal alternatives to filing a lawsuit and how they can help resolve some personal injury claims without having a court trial.

The differences between mediation and arbitration

Both mediation and arbitration bring in a professional and impartial third party to help resolve an issue, but this is pretty much where the similarities end.


Mediation is a voluntary legal method to settle a dispute that is non-binding, unless it is court-ordered. The mediator acts as a go-between between the two parties to try to negotiate a settlement agreement. It is much more informal than arbitration. The mediator can meet with both parties at the same time, or speak to them individually. Mediation can sometimes take a few hours or a few days.

Unlike arbiters, mediators do not make any decision on behalf of the parties. They try to facilitate the resolution of the dispute by supervising the exchange of information and the bargaining process. Many times mediators are the voice of reason, acting to find common ground for the parties and to deal with unrealistic expectations. They help to define each party’s concerns and come up with solutions. They often draft the final settlement, if both parties agree.

If both parties agree to a mediated agreement, they sign the settlement. In most cases, a signed agreement is tantamount to an oral agreement in that it is considered an enforceable contract. If one or both parties do not agree, either one or both of them can decide to pursue their claims in other venues – like going to court.


Arbitration involves an actual hearing that is normally conducted by one or more agreed-upon arbitrators who are usually members of the legal profession (another lawyer, a retired judge, etc.). As in a trial, evidence is presented, arguments made, and witnesses are usually called. 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 mediation and arbitration are useful

Both mediation and arbitration are legal means to reach an agreement that is faster and much cheaper. They are less formal and a court trial 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 methods of mediation or arbitration when negligence is agreed upon by both parties, but a monetary settlement is disputed.

I would appreciate it if you would share this post so that others can benefit from the information. Thank you.

If you have any questions about this article or any area of personal injury law, please refer to the contact info below.

Also, if you are interested, please read my other personal injury articles at

Contact Information:

The Law Offices of Peter Miller

1601 S. Broadway

Little Rock, AR 72206

Phone: 501-374-6300



The content of this blog was prepared by Law Office of Peter Miller, P.A. for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice. Laws differ by jurisdiction, and the information in this blog may not apply to you. You should seek the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any action. Using this blog site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Law Office of Peter Miller, P.A. Attorney-client relationships can only be created by written contract.

Attribution: By Ctroutdocs/This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.


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