Alternative Dispute Resolution Options Available in Auto Accident Cases

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If you’ve ever been through the court process, you might know how extensive it can be, especially if you’ve been involved in an automobile accident. While going through court is one way to obtain recovery for damages or injuries sustained in an automobile accident, it is by no means the only way. In the legal system today, individuals have a variety of options available to settle their claim out of court, which include negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.


One of the most common, and informal, forms of dispute resolution available to parties to an automobile accident claim is that of negotiation. In fact, when most people think of settling out of court, they tend to think of the negotiation process. Generally, negotiation is a fairly simple process, with both parties meeting to discuss possible options and to gauge the advantages and disadvantages to settling outside of court. While the negotiation process is generally informal, with just the parties involved discussing the matter at hand, once a settlement has been agreed upon, the plaintiff will then typically lose any right to recovery in court.  


The next step up from a negotiation is the process known as “mediation.” In mediation, the parties meet with a neutral third-party, known as a “mediator,” outside of court to resolve their conflicts. The mediator will work to help the parties discuss any relevant issues and come to an agreement outside of court. While any decision made by a mediator is not initially binding, parties may agree to a settlement outside of court that incorporates the solutions discussed during mediation. One of the primary benefits to mediation is that not only is there a neutral third-party assessing the value of the case, but also parties to a case are provided an opportunity to obtain a solution that can be more flexible than one that would be gained in court.  


Finally, there is arbitration. While this form of dispute resolution is most similar to the court process, it is still less stringent. Much like with mediation, in arbitration, parties bring their dispute before a neutral third-party. In arbitration, however, the neutral third-party, or “arbitrator,” holds a role similar to a judge in a trial. The arbitrator will hear evidence and testimonies, and will typically make decisions on relevant matters, such as who recovers and how much. Whereas parties who do not come to an agreement within mediation may simply move on through to the trial, the arbitrator will decide the outcome at the end of the arbitration.

Contact an Attorney

Even though there are alternatives to the court process in an automobile claim, an attorney can be a valuable asset in any situation following an accident. An experienced attorney can help spot issues that you might never have thought of, and can help protect your interests by advising the best course of action. If you are looking for an experienced attorney to handle your case, contact the David Aylor Law Offices for a free case evaluation.

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