The Process of Resolving a Claim Through Arbitration
When you suffer an injury caused by someone else’s negligence, there are several options available to you to pursue the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages and other damages. These options include filing an insurance claim, a lawsuit or resolving the matter out of court. One way to resolve the situation out of court is through the process of arbitration.
Although the process may not involve going to court, it is likely to involve attorneys representing the insurance company’s interests. Therefore, it is important that you have an experienced attorney on your side to represent your interests.
Our personal injury lawyers in Savannah have years of experience helping injury victims like you successfully recover the compensation they need in and out of court. We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your claim to see which course of action, including arbitration, is right for your unique situation.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process that is generally done privately and not before a jury. Instead, arbitration cases are heard by a single objective third party who hears from the disputing parties and provides a solution for both sides.
Unlike lawsuits, the discovery process is limited and there are relaxed rules for admissible evidence in the case. Additionally, there is no opportunity for cross-examination of witnesses and no witness statements.
Is Arbitration Always Voluntary?
The process of arbitration is not always voluntary. Sometimes, there is a contractual obligation between two parties to resolve a dispute through arbitration instead of filing a lawsuit. For example, first-party insurance claims for no-fault policies like Personal Injury Protection (PIP), MedPay or Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage all generally have some language in their policies saying disputes must be resolved through arbitration.
However, since Georgia is an at-fault state, and claims against negligent drivers must be made to the liable insurance company, these third-party claims may not be forced to be resolved through arbitration. The only time arbitration may be enforced for third-party claims is if a judge orders it. Scenarios in which a judge makes this order are unlikely.
Am I Legally Bound to Comply with the Results of Arbitration?
There are two types of arbitration: binding and non-binding. When arbitration is binding, it means the disputing parties agree that the resolution set forth by the arbitrator is the last word on the dispute. Therefore, appeals are not allowed, and each party is bound by law to act according to the decision of the arbitrator. This includes if the case goes against your interests, and you are required to pay legal fees.
How Does Arbitration Work?
The process of arbitration is sort of like the process of filing a lawsuit and trying a case in court. The first step in the process is choosing the arbitrator who hears the case. Generally, arbitrators are retired judges, current or former lawyers or anyone else who has knowledge and experience in the legal profession. Once the arbitrator is agreed upon by the disputing parties, the rest of the process is sort of like a court hearing, including:
- Opening statements
- Case presentations
- Closing statements
When each side presents its case, it may include supporting evidence, but unlike in a traditional courtroom, the opposing side does not have the opportunity to openly challenge the evidence or statements from witnesses.
Once the disputing parties present their cases, the arbitrator decides who has a stronger case and which side should pay damages.
Need Help? Call Us Today
Before deciding whether arbitration is the right way to go about resolving a dispute with a negligent party, it is important that you weigh the pros and cons of arbitration vs going to court. It may be in your best interest to discuss your legal options with a licensed attorney who has years of experience handling claims like yours.
Since 2013, our attorneys have worked with injury victims to help secure the compensation they needed for medical bills, lost wages and other damages. We offer a free consultation and charge you nothing while we work on your claim, so there is no risk to you.