Arbitration for Accident Injury Claims: A Quick Guide
Someone looking for a top motor vehicle accident lawyer Wheaton MD has to offer might already know that car insurance claims can be difficult after an accident. While some claims are best handled in the courtroom through a lawsuit, not all car accident injury claims need to be taken to court. In fact, as an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer Wheaton MD can provide might attest, these types of personal injury claims are often best handled through out-of-court negotiations.
Mediation and arbitration are two types of negotiation processes that could potentially result in an ideal settlement for a car accident victim. While mediation is a process that provides a suggestion for both parties on how to settle a dispute, arbitration involves a binding decision much like a court procedure would involve. If you’ve been involved in an accident and you are considering hiring a Wheaton MD motor vehicle accident lawyer to assist in an out-of-court settlement, arbitration might be the solution. Here’s a brief look at what this process typically entails.
Arbitration: The Basics
- Arbitration is a negotiation process for a dispute between two parties and it occurs outside of the courtroom. Similar to mediation, the setting of an arbitration discussion is more informal than a courtroom lawsuit. Similar to a court case, both sides are typically asked to present evidence for their allegations and/or defenses and their testimonies may be under oath.
- One of the most defining features of arbitration is that the decision made by the arbitrator is final. This is similar to a court case in many ways, as a seasoned motor vehicle accident lawyer Wheaton MD can provide might explain. If either side does not find the decision to be reasonable — even if both sides find the decision to be unreasonable — neither side has the ability to appeal the decision.
- Both parties must agree to arbitration. If one party objects to arbitration, the other party cannot decide to proceed with the process regardless. If there are no other options available, then the plaintiff might wish to seek counsel from a local motor vehicle accident lawyer Wheaton MD trusts. It might be necessary in complex accident cases to file a lawsuit.
- Both parties must agree on an arbitrator. When both sides agree to settle the dispute through arbitration, the next step is to decide on an arbitrator that both parties accept. The arbitrator might have experience handling motor vehicle cases or personal injury cases in the past but not every arbitrator will have this experience — making it important to research the background of arbitrators. Many professional arbitrators will have previous experience working in legal settings as a judge or a lawyer. In the case of a motor vehicle accident dispute, the injured plaintiff (or the lawyer representing the plaintiff) might ask the appropriate insurance company for a list of arbitrators that it will approve, and then the plaintiff can pick from this list.
- Arbitration involves the presentation of evidence and in many cases, the defendant and plaintiff will testify under oath. Mediation allows for the presentation of evidence as well, however, in most mediations the individuals who testify are not bound to their statements under oath. Regarding the types of evidence that may be presented, this could be very similar to the evidence presented in an injury lawsuit in court. Evidence may include police reports, testimonies from eyewitnesses, photographs, or medical records detailing the injuries sustained.
- Insurance companies may ask injured claimants to agree to a “high-low” settlement before arbitration begins. This agreement determines a minimum settlement amount and a maximum settlement amount — although it’s likely that the actual settlement reached in the discussion will be somewhere in between. Nevertheless, these two numbers are intended to make sure that the arbitration decision is as fair as possible.
The Benefits of Arbitration
Arbitration isn’t the best way to solve every injury dispute, but it may provide a reasonable solution for certain cases. There are a few benefits of arbitration that may make it a better solution than filing a lawsuit.
Firstly, arbitration is slightly more formal than mediation and it resembles the structure of an in-court proceeding. Both parties have the opportunity to present opening statements, rebuttals, testimonies, and evidence to a third-party individual. However, arbitration procedures tend to be much faster than traditional lawsuits. Claimants may also find that arbitration is less expensive than filing a lawsuit in court.
The finality of an arbitrator’s decision can also be a major benefit for an injured claimant in a dispute with an insurance company, as an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer Wheaton MD might explain. The downside for the claimant is that there is no opportunity to make an appeal if the arbitrator decides on a settlement that is lower than what the claimant believes is reasonable.
However, the finality of the decision also means that if the arbitrator decides on a settlement amount that the claimant favors — but one that the insurance company believes is unfair — the insurance company is likely not allowed to file for an appeal.
These benefits may not justify the use of arbitration in all cases, as any local motor vehicle accident lawyer in Wheaton MD might explain. It’s possible in some cases that mediation would be a better option, or filing a lawsuit might be justified. Regardless of which method is more likely to produce ideal results for an injured claimant, it’s often advisable for claimants in difficult cases to discuss the matter with a skilled motor vehicle accident lawyer Wheaton MD trusts.
A Local Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Wheaton MD Residents Can Depend On
If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident and you believe you are owed financial compensation, Cohen & Cohen may be able to help. Not only does our legal team have experience advocating for personal injury plaintiffs in the courtroom, but we also have experience advocating for plaintiffs in arbitration proceedings as well.
If you would like to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our attorneys to talk about how your individual injury claim may be settled, contact us today by phone or online. At Cohen & Cohen, we’re proud to provide our clients with a motor vehicle accident lawyer Wheaton MD residents can trust.