The most common way to resolve an auto accident claim is to either reach a settlement agreement or take the case to court for a jury of non-legal experts to decide.
However, there are some other ways to resolve a claim. One of those is through the process of car accident arbitration. Below, we discuss how arbitration works as well as the pros and cons of it.
If you have any questions about your legal options after a Wisconsin car accident, call our Green Bay car accident lawyers today. The consultation is free and there are no upfront fees.
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What is Arbitration for a Car Accident?
Arbitration is a private process where two parties disputing an issue agree that a third, uninvolved party can determine the outcome of the dispute after hearing arguments from each side.
What makes arbitration different from a jury trial is that the arbitrator is usually someone with legal knowledge. For example, many retired judges or attorneys are used as arbitrators for disputes. In a jury trial, the jury members are chosen at random, and many times do not have any legal knowledge.
Car Accident Arbitration Process
The process of arbitration begins very much like the process of a court case. There is a discovery phase where each side provides information that is relevant to the case. Then there is an opportunity for the crash victim’s attorney and the liable insurance company to make an argument to convince the arbitrator of their claim. After each side states its case, the arbitrator deliberates, as a jury would, with all the facts and reaches a conclusion.
How is Arbitration Different From Mediation?
While arbitration and jury trials share some similarities in their processes, arbitration and mediation are vastly different.
During mediation, the two parties work with an objective third party who can help the disputing parties reach a favorable conclusion for each side. The mediator does not have the power to determine the outcome of a case. Whereas in arbitration, the arbitrator’s goal is to determine the outcome of the case.
Is Arbitration Binding?
There are two types of arbitration, binding and non-binding.
When arbitration is binding, it means the decision made by the arbitrator is final and cannot be contested. If arbitration is non-binding, then the losing party may be able to file a lawsuit for a chance to get a more favorable decision from a jury.
Generally, if both parties agreed to arbitration before a dispute arose, the process is binding. However, if both parties decide to settle a claim through the process of arbitration after a claim is made, both sides must decide whether the process will be binding or non-binding.
Is Arbitration Mandatory?
Arbitration can be mandatory in some instances. For example, if you signed an agreement with the liable party, there may be a clause in the contract that forces you into arbitration.
Generally, policy agreements with your own insurance company have an arbitration clause. Therefore, if you file a first-party claim, such as an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) claim, you may be required to settle the case through arbitration.
Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft also have arbitration clauses that may force you into arbitration if you file a claim with the rideshare company’s insurance.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Arbitration?
There are advantages and disadvantages to arbitration, much like insurance settlements or jury trials.
How Long Does Arbitration Take for a Car Accident?
For some cases, arbitration may be a more efficient way of settling a claim. However, there may also be some drawbacks.
Arbitration may be more cost-effective than going to court, as a jury trial entails court fees and other costs. The process of arbitration may also be quicker than a court case, as there are fewer moving parts. For example, in a court case, there must be an available judge, a jury must be seated and a courtroom available.
Arbitrators Know the Law
An arbitrator may have more knowledge of the law, so his or her decision may be more predictable than that of a jury of non-legal minds. This could be both a pro and a con, as some cases with questionable liability may benefit from a jury of individuals who are more likely to empathize with an accident victim.
Minimum/Maximum Settlement Agreement
Another point to keep in mind about arbitration is that each side may agree on a minimum and maximum settlement payout. In some instances, the arbitrator may not award you a settlement that covers the full cost of your damages. If the arbitration is binding, you may not be able to appeal the decision.
Arbitration is also usually less formal and more private than a courtroom. Some accident victims may prefer more confidentiality about their claim.
Can I Still Negotiate a Settlement While My Case is Being Arbitrated?
If you decide to resolve your claim through arbitration, you can continue negotiating a settlement with the liable party.
Going through the process of arbitration should not affect how you negotiate with the insurance company.
Need Help With Your Claim? Call Us Today
If you are unsure about the legal process of pursuing compensation for your damages after an accident, let our knowledgeable attorneys help you.
We offer a free and confidential consultation. We also do not charge any hourly fees. Our attorneys work on contingency, which means we do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you.
Call (877) 888-5201 to schedule a free consultation today.