Alternative Dispute Resolutions for Personal Injury Cases
January 10th, 2024
Litigation is not the only way a personal injury case can be resolved. If you were hurt in an accident caused by the negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of another, you may be able to settle your case and recover your damages without ever stepping foot inside a courtroom. Mediation, negotiation, and arbitration are three methods of alternative dispute resolution that can be used to resolve a personal injury matter instead of going through the traditional litigation process.
How Does Mediation Work in a Personal Injury Case?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which an impartial third-party, referred to as a mediator, assists the parties in reaching a settlement that is mutually agreeable. The process is low-conflict and takes place in a neutral environment — such as your attorney’s office — rather than in the courtroom. They can also take place over video conferencing software such as ZOOM.
Mediation can offer an accident victim a number of benefits when it comes to resolving their personal injury matter. Specifically, the mediation process is:
- Private — Unlike litigation, mediation is private and confidential. Anything that is said in mediation does not become part of the public record.
- Informal — Mediation is an informal, voluntary, and non-adversarial process that can take place at any time. When this process is used, the resolution of a personal injury case is not dependent on the court’s calendar.
- Efficient — Litigation can be lengthy and time-consuming. The mediation process can resolve cases more quickly and with less effort and less expense than proceeding to trial. While the court process may sometimes take years to resolve a case, mediation can often resolve a personal injury matter more quickly .
- Flexible — Mediation offers a flexible environment and allows the parties to have control over the outcome of the case. Compared with the structured litigation process, mediation promotes creative problem solving and open dialogue.
- Less stressful — Litigation can be stressful and emotionally overwhelming. Mediation is a collaborative process, rather than an adversarial one. This makes mediation much less stressful than going through the traditional litigation process.
Significantly, the mediator does not act in the same manner as a judge as they will not decide your case. Rather, they will encourage open communication during the mediation sessions. Both parties can present potential solutions and the mediator will work to help both parties make concessions to reach a resolution. Once a settlement has been reached, it must be put into writing and executed by both parties. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the case will then proceed to trial however things shared during mediation are not admissible at the trial.
How Does Negotiation Resolve a Personal Injury Matter?
Negotiation is another form of alternative dispute resolution that can help to resolve personal injury matters efficiently and effectively. It is usually the first method that the parties will attempt to resolve a case. Negotiations can begin at any stage of a lawsuit — and a settlement can be reached using this process at any time up until the trial concludes.
Negotiation offers a considerable amount of flexibility. In contrast with mediation, there is no neutral third-party involved. The attorneys for each side communicate with each other to reach a settlement. Importantly, negotiation often works best when both parties are willing to work toward an agreement.
How Does Arbitration Settle a Personal Injury Matter?
Arbitration uses an agreed upon neutral third-party called an arbitrator to resolve a personal injury matter. The arbitrator reviews the evidence and hears testimony in the case to reach a decision in the case. This method of alternative dispute resolution is less formal than litigation and takes place in a neutral environment. While parties can still conduct discovery, depose witnesses, and present evidence in arbitration, the rules are much more flexible than those that are applied in litigation.
Arbitration can be non-binding or binding. With binding arbitration, the parties waive their right to a trial and agree to accept the arbitrator’s decision. In nonbinding arbitration, either party may reject the arbitrator’s decision if they do not agree with it and demand a trial. In many cases, arbitration can be more advantageous than litigation because a plaintiff does not have to face the uncertainty of a trial, is less expensive, and can occur much faster.
What are the Pros and Cons of Using Alternative Dispute Resolution for a Personal Injury Matter?
Regardless of which form of alternative dispute resolution is used, there are many benefits to settling a personal injury case outside of court. If a case goes to trial, the outcome is unpredictable. When a personal injury matter is settled, a plaintiff has the certainty of knowing how much compensation they will be receiving for their injury.
Contact an Experienced Washington Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can advise you whether alternative dispute resolution is the best avenue to resolve your case. The Bellingham personal injury attorneys at Robinson & Kole provide committed counsel to accident victims throughout Washington State and work to obtain the maximum compensation they deserve — whether the results are achieved through mediation, arbitration, negotiation, or litigation. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 800.640.5616 or by using our online contact form. Se habla Español.
Categories: Personal Injury