When possible, we like to arbitrate or mediate cases instead of going to trial. Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution. If your accident case is arbitrated, a final decision will be issued by an arbitrator instead of a jury at trial. The insurance company has to agree to arbitrate and if they do not agree, we just continue with the lawsuit and will take your case to trial.
There are many advantages to both us and the insurance company by resolving your claim through arbitration instead of trial. Some of the advantages of arbitration are as follows:
- Arbitration can shorten your case by years.
- Arbitration usually takes two hours while a trial usually takes two weeks. After experiencing two weeks of stress at trial, clients usually say they never want to do that again.
- Arbitration can save you $15,000-$25,000 in trial expenses which is paid back from the money you receive.
- We only arbitrate using retired Supreme Court judges who know accident cases and their values better than anyone. You will be awarded what your personal injury case is really worth.
- After trial, juries often award too much or too little. When they award too much, the amount is usually reduced by the trial judge, reduced on appeal, or settled for much less after appealing. If your case goes to appeal, it will be decided by three judges instead of a jury and your legal fees can go to 50%.
- Arbitration is binding and final. Arbitration decisions are generally not appealable while a jury verdict will most likely be appealed which can substantially increase your legal expenses and substantially decrease the jury’s verdict.
Often, High/Low parameters are negotiated prior to the arbitration hearing to set a specific range for the award. Both sides will then agree to the maximum and minimum amount to be awarded.
Many personal injury attorneys like the ability to appeal to the emotions of people on the jury. The problem is that high jury verdicts get reduced. But large jury verdicts look good on the lawyer’s wall when they make the newspaper.
The Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics bears out the fact that plaintiffs actually do a little better when the decision is rendered by a judge instead of a jury. However, each case needs to be considered separately because some cases are better suited for trial by a jury.
When proceeding with arbitration, the defense attorneys will still have the insurance company doctor examine you and you need to be properly represented at your medical examination.
You may have already completed depositions prior to your arbitration but if not, the insurance company will decide whether or not they want depositions done before arbitration. If you have to appear for a deposition, you need to be properly prepared for your deposition.
We can write a book about the advantages of arbitration but those are the more important ones. We have never yet had an arbitration decision by a retired Supreme Court judge which we were unhappy with.
Another form of alternative dispute resolution which is an alternative to arbitration, is mediation. While arbitration is binding, mediation mediation is nonbinding.
Arbitration is appropriate even for large catastrophic injury cases. We usually use one of the retired Supreme Court judges at National Arbitration and Mediation which has many cases seeing seven-figure awards and some as much as $18 million.