Why Your Case May Go to Auto Accident Arbitration Instead of Trial

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Some auto accident clients want to resolve their cases as soon as possible. Others want their day in court before a jury trial. But sometimes, your no-fault lawsuit won’t be resolved through the courts at all. Sometimes, your case may go to auto accident arbitration instead of trial.

Arbitration as an Alternative to Trial

Arbitration is a form of “alternative dispute resolution.” That means it’s another way to get your case resolved and your relief paid, without relying on the court systems. There are several kinds of alternative dispute resolution, but arbitration is the most formal. It involves submitting evidence and briefs to either one or three professional decisions makers. They review everything, hear arguments, and then decide what relief you should receive.

Why Choose Arbitration

Deciding whether to use arbitration to resolve your case is a big deal. Before signing an arbitration agreement, you should make sure you understand all the benefits and limitations of the process. Many people choose arbitration because:

  • They want to keep their affairs private. Arbitration is an entirely private process. Nothing shows up in the court file. So if your case involves sensitive medical or personal information, you may want to keep them out of the public eye.
  • They want the case resolved faster. You don’t have to go through extensive discovery or wait for the court’s busy schedule to arbitrate your case. So if you need relief fast, you may want to use arbitration instead of trial.
  • They want trained professionals decide their case. Juries sometimes don’t understand the intricacies of complex medical claims or insurance issues. Arbitration allows you to choose your decision makers, who could be experts in the field.

The Downside to Arbitration

Arbitration also comes with limitations. Before choosing to opt out of trial, make sure you discuss all the consequences of the decision.

  • Limited Decision-Making Power. Arbitrators only have the power to decide issues described in the arbitration agreement. So if your lawyer forgets to list interest, costs, attorney fees, or other relief, you could lose access to them.
  • Limited Appeals Process. If you agree to arbitration, you also agree to be bound by the outcome. Except in very rare cases, you will not be able to ask a court to overturn an arbitrator’s decision. Sometimes this is an advantage, though, because the insurance company can’t postpone paying your benefits while they appeal legal issues in your case.

When Auto Accident Arbitration is Automatic

Most of the time, the parties agree to alternative dispute resolution options. But when you sue your insurance company based on your uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance policy (UIM), auto accident arbitration could be automatic. Many UIM contracts include mandatory arbitration clauses, which require you to use private dispute resolution any time there is a conflict. If you try to take the the case directly to trial, it could be dismissed.

The decision between arbitration and trial should be made carefully after discussing all the options with your trial attorney. If you need help understanding your alternative dispute resolution options, contact Christensen Law to schedule a meeting.