Are you worried your personal injury case won’t settle? Although the vast majority of lawsuits settle, some do not. If yours is one of those cases, you have a decision to make. Litigation can be expensive, time consuming and emotionally draining. That is why, as a personal injury attorney, when appropriate, I recommend alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration or mediation.
Many people don’t understand exactly what arbitration and mediation are. Both are alternatives to a traditional jury trial, and both use a neutral third party to oversee the process. The key difference between them is that the result of arbitration is usually binding, whereas mediation results are usually not. Knowing when, or if, to use one of these processes takes knowledge and experience.
Why Some Personal Injury Cases Don’t Settle
A crucial part of a personal injury lawyer’s pre-trial strategy is building a case that entices the defense to settle for a favorable amount. Statistically speaking this approach works, since nearly 95% of all pending lawsuits settle before trial. But each case is different.
The facts surrounding an accident, the injuries incurred, the strength of witness testimony, and the decision makers for the defendant, all play a part in determining whether a case can be settled. Oftentimes lawsuits don’t settle because:
- The insurance company representing the defendant is not making a reasonable offer;
- The insurance company is being uncooperative in responding to requests for information and/or to settlement offers;
- There is disagreement about who is at fault for the accident;
- There is disagreement about the extent of injuries related to the accident;
- The plaintiff is overestimating the value of his case
When one or more of these issues exist, settlement becomes difficult, delayed, or sometimes impossible. Then a decision needs to be made; should you go to trial or try an alternative dispute resolution such as arbitration or mediation.
What is Arbitration?
Simply put, binding arbitration replaces a court proceeding. Both sides provide testimony and present evidence. Instead of a judge, the parties select an arbitrator to conduct the arbitration.
What are some benefits of arbitration?
- The proceeding is usually less stressful than a trial. It takes place in a less formal setting than a courtroom and rules for presenting evidence and testimony are more relaxed. Since both parties have chosen to arbitrate and have participated in selecting the arbitrator, it’s more likely everyone will proceed in a peaceful manner to a final resolution.
- Cheaper than litigation. Arbitration is typically less costly than litigation because it is quicker, less formal and less complicated than a court proceeding.
- Time efficient. Arbitration can be fast, quick and easy. A case may have to wait years to get to trial.
- Unlike a jury trial, arbitration proceedings are private and the outcome can be confidential.
How Can Mediation Help Settle Your Case?
Mediation is quite different than arbitration. In a mediation, the parties to the lawsuit negotiate with the help of a neutral third party known as a mediator. Unlike an arbitrator, a mediator will not attempt to determine who is right or wrong.
Since mediation is a negotiation, the parties need to come in with an open mind. The mediator will guide the parties toward a mutually agreeable settlement by helping them clarify their underlying interests and concerns. He will encourage compromise and trade-offs based on the relative importance of each item to each party.
When using mediation, the plaintiff will usually have two numbers in mind: the amount he asked for, and the amount he is willing to settle for. Some cases take more than one session to settle.
Some of the benefits of mediation include:
- The opportunity for both parties to sit together and hash out a deal.
- The ability for both sides to have a strong voice in the process, as opposed to a trial where the jury takes over.
- The help of a mediator. Although he does not have the power to make a final decision, the mediator is tasked with moving the process forward and helping both parties work through challenges.
- Faster and more affordable. When compared to a jury trial, mediation almost always results in a faster resolution. Plus, it’s more affordable than going to court.
Getting Help from a Long Beach Personal Injury Attorney
Your Injuries are Personal to Me
When your case doesn’t settle, you need to decide what the next step should be in getting fully compensated for your damages. Sometimes it is a jury trial. Sometimes it might be arbitration or mediation. Good legal advice is critical in making this decision.
I have been representing injured accident victims for more than 30 years. I aggressively prepare each case to pressure insurance companies to settle for top dollar. They know I am willing to fight. This is equally important when I take a case to trial, arbitration or mediation.
Learn more about your legal rights, including more details about arbitration and mediation, by contacting the Long Beach Law Office of Michael D. Waks. Call me at 888-394-1174 or fill out the online contact form.
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