If you have sustained damages or injuries after being involved in an auto accident with an uninsured driver, it may be worth considering the option of resolving your claim through arbitration. But what exactly is arbitration, and is it really a sensible choice for uninsured motorist cases? Our attorneys explain the difference between arbitration and litigation and go over considerations to help you make the best decision for your case.
What Is Arbitration?
Arbitration is one of many different ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) methods, which allows two opposing parties to reach an agreement without going through litigation. Of all the ADR methods, arbitration is the most formal and somewhat resembles a conventional trial.
During the arbitration process, the opposing parties present their arguments in front of the arbitrator. The arbitrator takes the role of a judge and evaluates the merits of each side. There are no witness statements or cross-examination of witnesses during arbitration, and the rules for presenting evidence are less stringent than those of a trial. The arbitration process ends with the arbitrator making a decision on the case, and the decision can be legally binding.
What Are the Differences Between Arbitration and Trial?
The main difference between arbitration and trial is that arbitration is conducted in a private setting without a jury and without the many formalities of a trial in a courtroom. That often makes arbitration less costly, as the opposing parties can share the cost of paying for the arbitrator’s services. In addition, arbitration takes a lot less time than a trial, with some cases reaching a resolution the same day.
The way evidence is handled in arbitration is also different. Before a trial, the parties have time to retrieve and examine evidence they plan to present during the trial in a process called discovery. In contrast, there is usually no discovery period during arbitration, and evidence can be presented at any point, giving the opposing party only a few minutes to review the evidence. An arbitrator can also allow evidence, such as hearsay, that would not be admissible in a courtroom. Finally, there is no jury in an arbitration process, making the arbitrator solely responsible for making a decision.
Is Arbitration Beneficial for My Uninsured Motorist Case?
While arbitration does have a few advantages over traditional trials, not every case will do well in arbitration. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may reach a more favorable result and obtain higher compensation by taking your case to a jury. A jury may be influenced by emotion, your story, or your personal circumstances and may decide the case in your favor. An arbitrator is usually not swayed by any of these factors.
It is always best to have a strong case before choosing arbitration or a trial. In a trial, you can either walk away with a settlement award or end up empty-handed, and there is no way to secure any particular outcome. In some arbitration cases, the parties may enter what is called a “high-low agreement,” which defines the lowest and highest amount to be paid for your case. This at least guarantees that you will walk away with the minimum amount, no matter the outcome of your arbitration process.
Why Should I Consult With a Car Accident Attorney for My Case?
Except for cases where your UIM (underinsured motorist) carrier requires you to take your case through arbitration, it is wise to consider the pros and cons of each option by consulting a skilled car accident attorney. Your attorney can help you understand whether you have a strong case and whether your case would do better in arbitration or trial. Your attorney can also help you gather the necessary evidence to build a strong argument on your behalf and assist you in the process of conducting negotiations with the opposing party.
If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist and need help determining the best course of action to recover compensation for your damages, reach out to The Scott Pryor Law Group. Call 678-325-3434 to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your case.