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Your no-fault complaint is filed, discovery is over, and you are just beginning to accept that your case may have to go trial. But then your auto accident attorney brings up another option: arbitration. What is arbitration, and why would you want to use it as an alternative to trial?
Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It pulls your case out of the court system and into a private resolution process. Instead of a judge, a private arbitrator or panel of three arbitrators decide your case.
The arbitration process is often as formal as a full trial. Your auto accident attorney may prepare briefs, present exhibits, or even ask witnesses to testify. Other arbitrators will rely on written evidence summaries, including affidavits expert reports.
Unlike other forms of alternative dispute resolution, an arbitration award is often binding. The parties don’t get to decide whether to accept or not. In fact, one of the down sides to arbitration is that parties have very limited access to appeals if they disagree with the arbitrators’ decision.
There are many reasons why your trial attorney may recommend taking your auto accident case to mediation. Every case is different, but here are a few common causes.
If you are suing your auto insurance company based on your uninsured motorist insurance (UIM) policy, you may have no choice but to take the case to arbitration. Many UIM policies contain mandatory arbitration clauses built into their contracts. By signing your policy, you agreed that if there is any legal dispute, it will be decided outside of court. If you file a lawsuit without first trying to resolve the case through arbitration, you could end up having your case dismissed.
Juries are not always reliable when it comes to complicated medical or legal issues. If your recovery depends on the decision-maker understanding that an unusual treatment was reasonably necessary for your recovery, for example, you may be better off selecting educated arbitrators to make the decision.
The reality of the Michigan court system is that it can take months and sometimes more than a year to take your case from complaint to trial. If you need to get your relief more quickly, arbitration can often cut the process short.
As the injured motorist, it may not be the time or expense that pushes you to accept arbitration. It may be the privacy. Everything is resolved privately, so, you can avoid having your testimony and medical records become part of public record.
There are lots of pros and cons to arbitration. If you think it might be helpful for your case, schedule time to talk to the experienced trial attorneys at Christensen Law to discuss your options.