Following an auto accident, you may visualize resolving the conflict through a full-blown trial with witnesses, lawyers and a judge. However, there are many reasons why proceeding to trial may not be the ideal choice. Trials can be long, expensive, risky, and unpredictable.
Courts are overloaded with cases; many newly filed cases do not get a trial date for over a year. While preparing for trial, lawyers must assemble witnesses, do extensive research, write briefs and motions, prepare exhibits, and perform many other time consuming tasks. Of course, all of these steps require money. Trial costs and expenses can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands or more.
Because many people do avoid going directly to trial, means of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) have been gaining prominence. The three main types of ADR involve negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.
First, negotiation involves closely communicating with the opposing party (or parties) involved in the accident. Essentially, you must learn what the party really wants out of the deal. Then it is up to the individual or her lawyer to convince the opposing party that it is within their best interest to offer a reasonable settlement.
Second, mediation revolves around having an impartial outsider act as referee between the opposing parties. A skilled mediator will actively listen to each side and ensure that all parties feel respected. After hearing each side’s goals, the mediator evaluates the claims and gives feedback on strengths, weaknesses, and the value of the case. This process requires patience and understanding, but when implemented well it can lead to mutually beneficial results. Mediation is extremely common in today’s world.
Third, arbitration can either be binding or non-binding. As the names suggest, binding arbitration binds the parties to accept the outcome as final, whereas non-binding arbitration can be appealed. Arbitration is faster, less expensive and less exhausting than a trial, and offers the benefit of a skilled arbitrator. Arbitration commonly occurs when there is a dispute with your own insurance company.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, speaking to an attorney about the best course of action is preferable. The three main alternatives to trial – negotiation, mediation, and arbitration – confer many benefits and offer alternative options for victims who do not wish to go to trial.