Being injured in an accident is a terrible experience, and its even worse if the insurance company offers a settlement that is less than what you need. As a victim, what can you do? One answer is to go straight to court, but that can be time consuming and expensive; but a great alternative is to first attempt to settle out of court, through arbitration.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a process of dispute resolution, and a common alternative to a civil lawsuit. This is a less formal process compared to a trial, and you will present your case to a neutral third-party as well as the insurance company. The third-party will decide on the case after hearing both sides of the argument and will then render a binding or non-binding decision. Arbitrators will act as the judge and jury of the case and will typically be judges or highly skilled attorneys. If you have agreed to arbitration with a binding decision, you have waived your right to pursue the manner any further, and the arbitrator’s decision is final. Non-binding will allow you or the other party to appeal the decision and take it to court if neither party is satisfied with the decision. Insurance companies will almost always require that you go to binding arbitration, so it is important to read the fine print to know what you are getting yourself into.
When settlement negotiations have fallen through, that is when you should inform the insurance adjuster that you would like to move to arbitration. Most car insurance companies will allow for a case to be taken to arbitration, and greatly prefer this method to going to court. If they refuse to go to arbitration, the threat of a civil lawsuit will typically get them to go to the negotiating table. This is where it is crucial that you have a solid case and points that you can bring up, in order for them to feel arbitration is their best option.
Once both parties have agreed to go to arbitration, you can expect a process that will last approximately 3 months, depending on the situation, and will consist of the following:
- Filing and instigation
- Selection of an arbitrator
- Exchange of information and case preparation
Going to Arbitration
Not all cases are created equal, and this is where having an attorney well versed in personal injury comes in handy. First, it is best that an experienced attorney reviews your case to make sure that you are eligible for the amount of damages you feel are deserved. Laws can be complicated, and even more complicated than that is dealing with the insurance companies. Most of the time, insurance companies will have a large team of attorneys at their disposal, and they are not willing to give into your requests without a fight. Both sides will be required to present written arguments prior to the arbitration and being able to both create and respond to an argument is something best suited for a professional. Remember, you only have one chance to get the money you deserve.
As a pedestrian involved in an automobile incident, most likely you will be able to receive significant compensation. At Peterson Johnson, we will evaluate your case and see if you are able to get more by going into arbitration. We have an experienced legal team that will help you get the most that you are deserved. Arbitration is significantly less expensive to you than going to court, and most times you will receive more that what the insurance companies initially offer.