For many people, the thought of taking their personal injury lawsuit to trial can be nerve-wracking and overwhelming. However, personal injury claims don’t always have to be heard by a judge and decided by a jury. There are several ways a case can be resolved outside of court — through negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.
Negotiations may occur at any time during litigation. In fact, it can be an ongoing process until the very end. It’s not uncommon for a case to settle on the eve of trial.
Negotiations in a personal injury case involve each party bringing specific objectives to the table. Typically, the defendant or their insurance company will want to pay out the least amount of compensation possible, while minimizing their risk exposure. The plaintiff’s goal is to obtain the maximum monetary recovery they deserve — for both their financial losses and pain and suffering.
Settling a case through successful negotiation is an art — and it’s essential for an accident victim to be patient. If a case settles too quickly, the settlement value might be much lower than it would have been after the plaintiff reaches maximum medical improvement. It’s crucial to have a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer to obtain the best possible outcome.
Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral third party helps both sides reach a fair settlement. In certain cases, it can be faster, more efficient, and less stressful than going to trial. Many mediations are non-binding, but they are still private and confidential. Even if mediation attempts fail, whatever is said during the sessions cannot be used against either party in court.
A mediator is usually a retired judge or an attorney with a mediation practice. They will listen to each side’s position and provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the case. However, mediators do not determine liability or decide the outcome. If an agreement can be reached at mediation, the settlement paperwork can be drawn up relatively quickly and trial can be avoided.
While mediation isn’t right for every case — such as those involving severe injuries or wrongful death — it can serve an essential purpose for some matters. Even if a case isn’t resolved during mediation, it can provide a personal injury lawyer with crucial insight concerning the defense’s position. Having this knowledge can help the lawyer strategize in order to maximize the plaintiff’s compensation.
Arbitration is another form of alternative dispute resolution that can be used to settle a personal injury case out of court. Similar to mediation, a neutral third party guides the settlement discussion — but there is one major difference. In arbitration, the arbitrator can make a final decision regarding the case.
Arbitrations are conducted like mini trials, but they are much less formal. Both sides can present evidence and witnesses. The plaintiff and defense may also cross-examine each other’s witnesses and make opening and closing statements. But unlike an actual trial in court, there is no jury.
There are two types of arbitration: binding and non-binding. If the parties agree to non-binding arbitration, a party who doesn’t agree with the outcome can proceed with a lawsuit. Significantly, most insurance companies won’t agree to participate in binding arbitration without a high-low agreement in place. This is a contract entered into between the parties in which both agree to accept the arbitrator’s decision as long as it falls between the specific amounts decided beforehand.
Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another, a skilled personal injury attorney can determine whether the best possible outcome could be achieved through alternative dispute resolution. As a result of our extensive experience, knowledge, and commitment, the attorneys at The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP regularly obtain settlements and verdicts in the millions for clients.
The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP is a personal injury law firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of accident victims to ensure they get the monetary recovery they deserve for their injuries. Located in Manhattan, our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout New York City since 1937. Call to schedule a free consultation at (212) 425-1999 today.