Should I Settle My Chicago Personal Injury Claim Through Mediation or Arbitration?
When a negligent or reckless party causes an injury, that party can be held liable for damages under Illinois personal injury laws. In most cases, the process of recovering compensation for damages sustained in an accident begins by filing a personal injury claim. The insurance company for the responsible party assigns an adjuster who investigates your claim. The adjuster may offer an amount to settle your claim or deny liability for the claim.
If the insurance provider for the responsible party denies liability, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit. Even though you hire a Chicago personal injury lawyer to file a lawsuit, your claim may settle before the case goes to trial. In many cases, settling a claim outside of court may be preferable to a trial. For that reason, your attorney may suggest using an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method to settle your claim.
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
ADR is a method of negotiating a settlement for a disputed claim. The parties agree to retain a neutral third party to facilitate the settlement negotiations. Two of the common ADR methods used to settle disputes are mediation and arbitration.
Alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration, can be used to settle a variety of disputes. ADR is used in cases involving contract disputes, family law, and personal injury cases. Examples of personal injury claims that may use ADR methods include:
- Car Accidents
- Premise Liability Claims, including slip and fall accidents
- Animal Attacks, including dog bites and dog attacks
- Dangerous and Defective Product Claims
- Medical Malpractice
- Nursing Home Abuse Claims
- Burn Injuries
- Wrongful Death Claims
What are the Advantages of Using ADR to Settle a Chicago Personal Injury Claim?
The parties may settle a claim through ADR before or after filing a personal injury lawsuit. Advantages of using mediation or arbitration to settle your accident claim include:
- ADR is typically less costly than filing a lawsuit and going through a trial.
- You are not guaranteed a result in your favor if you go to trial. A jury decides the case, so you have no control over the final outcome.
- ADR is typically faster than going to trial, which means you could receive your compensation much sooner.
- Mediation and arbitration are confidential. The matters discussed during the meetings and the final outcome is not a matter of public record.
Even though there are several advantages of using ADR to settle your personal injury case, mediation and arbitration are not always the best way to handle an accident claim. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers carefully review your case to determine whether ADR might produce a favorable outcome compared to the risk of taking the case to trial.
Mediation vs. Arbitration in a Chicago Personal Injury Case
Mediation and arbitration have some similarities. However, there are also some distinct differences between these two ADR methods. For example, both methods are voluntary unless you entered a contract that requires ADR methods to be used to resolve disputes. In addition, both ADR methods are very flexible. The parties can set the terms of the mediation or arbitration. Furthermore, both methods utilize a neutral third party. However, mediators and arbitrators have very different roles.
A mediator is an impartial party who facilitates settlement discussions between the parties. The mediator does not decide the case, nor does the mediator offer opinions regarding the outcome of the case. A mediator meets with the parties together or separately to discuss the details of the claim. The mediator’s role is to help the parties identify the areas of dispute and discuss a compromise that both parties can accept to settle the claim. Parties are not required to agree to a settlement during mediation.
On the other hand, arbitration may be binding or non-binding. In binding arbitration, the parties agree to be bound by the arbitrator’s ruling. In binding arbitration, the parties do not typically have any legal recourse if they do not like the decision by the arbitrator. Unlike a mediator, the arbitrator’s job is to listen to the evidence submitted by both parties and issue a ruling based on the evidence.
The arbitrator should use the same legal theories to decide the claim as a judge or jury would use in court. However, the rules of evidence do not apply in arbitration. Therefore, parties may present evidence during arbitration that may not be used as evidence during a trial. Arbitration, like mediation, is far less formal and does not have the same rules as a trial.
Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss Your Case
If you have questions about ADR used in personal injury claims or would like to discuss your case in detail, call our office for a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers in Chicago.