When You Should Agree to Arbitration in a Car Accident Case

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In a car accident arbitration, both parties are usually represented by an attorney, although a person can always represent her/himself.  An arbitrator is an attorney who has been trained to work in a role similar to that of a judge. Both sides prepare an arbitration booklet making their respective cases including exhibits.  Both sides will then have an opportunity to present their case to the arbitrator and the arbitrator will ask questions of both parties. The parties involved may be questioned by the other party’s attorney.  Arbitration is usually binding, which means both parties must follow the decision made the arbitrator. In some states, arbitration is required for no-fault coverage cases or for car accidents with minimal damage. Arbitration is usually available as an option though in all car accident cases.

Advantages of Arbitration

Arbitration is a process for settling disputes similar to a court trial, but has the following advantages:

  • it is less formal;
  • is far less expensive; and
  • it is a faster process than going through a district court system. 

When Arbitration is a Good Choice

You should agree to arbitration in a car accident case if the amount of damages is low.  The low cost of arbitration as compared to a trial means that you should get more money for your damages and you will have to pay out less for attorney fees and court costs. For similar reasons, you should choose arbitration if you need to get your money sooner than later. Arbitration is a faster process then working through the district court system.

Arbitration is also a good option if the person seeking damages would not present well before a jury.  Juries have biases as does the general public.  Unlike the jury pool, the arbitrator is trained to be neutral regardless of a victim’s race, gender, or sexual orientation.  So a victim who is different than the local pool of jurors might do better to present his case before an arbitrator. A person who is a drug addict, or was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident may not present well to a jury and would also fair better in an arbitration setting.

Getting Legal Help

While an accident victim can represent herself in an arbitration, it is wise to hire an attorney to get through the process. The insurance company will hire an attorney who is well-versed in personal injury law and who will be able to argue the best case for the insurance company to the arbitrator or the jury.