Not all Utah personal injury claims go to court. Many claims and cases are settled outside the courtroom using different forms of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration. All parties involved in a personal injury claim must agree to participate in arbitration. Once agreed to, a neutral party, known as the arbitrator, is chosen to hear the case presented by both parties and makes a final settlement decision. Arbitration fees are typically split between both parties, or sometimes it’s decided that the losing party will cover the costs.
If negotiations between your attorney and the insurance company have hit a wall, arbitration may be a good choice to help move negotiations along and ultimately get a settlement decision.
The arbitrator chosen to preside over the case will be a neutral third party individual agreed upon by both parties. This individual may also have more specific training or expertise in the area that is the subject of the dispute.
An arbitrator holds the authority to make decisions regarding the case and can even decide on a settlement amount. Prior to the start of arbitration, the parties involved must agree to whether or not the arbitrator’s decisions will be binding or non-binding. If all parties agree to binding arbitration, then all final decisions made during this process are legally bound and enforced by the courts. This also means there is less chance of appealing the decision later. If it is decided that the process will be non-binding, then the arbitrator’s decisions will be recommendations, and neither party is legally held to anything. If not agreed on beforehand, the default is that all arbitration outcomes are binding.
The entire arbitration process is confidential and takes place outside the confines of a traditional courtroom. Nothing that is said during an arbitration hearing is recorded or made for public record.
Advantages to Choosing Arbitration for Your Personal Injury Case
- Cuts down on cost. You won’t pay as much in legal fees and expenses as you would if you went to trial.
- Saves Time. Trials can last weeks, months, or even years. The arbitration process is usually quicker, with most sessions lasting no more than a few days.
- Flexibility. There is no need to wait around for a court date to arrive. The parties in arbitration can agree to a date and set their schedule. They may also set their own rules for how much time each party gets with the arbitrator or how much evidence can be presented.
- Peaceful resolution. Arbitration can be less stressful and less adversarial.
Disadvantages to Using Arbitration to Settle Your Personal Injury Case
- Less control over the decisions being made and unpredictable outcomes. Because arbitrators are not bound by the same legal standards as the courts are, they have significantly more freedom to make decisions based on what they feel is best, becoming intentionally or unintentionally biased.
- Settlements can be lower than expected. When someone else is making the decisions, you always run the risk of being awarded less than you and your attorney were expecting, or you may not receive anything at all.
- Limited discovery. One of the main reasons arbitration often reaches settlements faster is because there is a limited amount of discovery allowed. Discovery is the process of exchanging information between parties. This can have significant drawbacks when someone else is deciding your case because it’s likely a case will have to be presented without all the facts.
- Limited ability to appeal decisions. Most arbitration does not allow for appeals to decision because of the agreed upon terms.
Let the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Johnson | Livingston Help You
Not all personal injury cases will be a good fit for arbitration, and agreeing to it is not a decision that should be made alone. With each personal injury claim being widely different from the next, there are many factors involved in deciding what path is the right one for your particular case, and you and your attorney should make that decision together.
You deserve to have a legal team that cares about the details of your case, and your best interests. Here at Johnson | Livingston, we take our job seriously, and your case seriously. Nothing ticks us off more than watching injured people be taken advantage of by the companies that say they are on your side.
We are here to review your case during a free consultation and discuss all your legal options with you. You also don’t pay anything out of pocket until we are done with the settlement or complete your case. You can call our office at (801) 948-9670, text us at (801) 683-5359, or fill out our free consultation form here, and someone from our office will reach out to you.