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Arbitration in a Personal Injury Case
In the current situation of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the courts have put the future of Jury trials in question. This an excellent time to consider alternative dispute resolution options, in particular Arbitration. Arbitration involves the parties selecting an independent third party to act in the role of a judge and render a decision at the end of the process.
Deciding to go forward with Arbitration
In order to proceed with Arbitration, both sides must agree to the process, and agree on the Arbitrator. Once this is done, a date is set for the arbitration. The process of Arbitration is similar to a trial, with the Arbitrator acting as the final decision maker in the process. Further, the parties, and any witnesses, will be permitted to give testimony during the course of the hearing. The benefit of Arbitration is that the setting is not in a formal courtroom, the parties and their counsel are usually in a conference room. This helps to alleviate the stress of a formal hearing in a courtroom. Further, the parties can reach agreements regarding testimony of witnesses and experts, such as presenting the experts opinion rather than bringing the expert to testify. The parties can also agree to submit written statements of witnesses rather than having them attend. In an arbitration where the Plaintiff was deceased, his family wrote a statement about how he had been impacted by his injuries following the accident rather than having to attend the actual hearing. This decision is made on a case by case basis.
The parties can also agree regarding exhibits, and prior to the arbitration, the information can be submitted for the arbitrator to review. Following an arbitration, the arbitrator will issue a written opinion of his or her decision, sometimes this is detailed explaining the reasoning, and sometimes it is not. Usually, the decision of an arbitrator is binding and cannot be appealed.
Benefits of Arbitration
As mentioned above, the setting of an arbitration is more relaxed than a courtroom trial. Additionally, if agreements are reached regarding exhibits and experts, the costs of securing the expert testimony can be saved. There is a fee to the arbitrator, but that fee is typically split between the two parties and can cost substantially less than paying an expert to come to trial to testify. Further, some arbitrations have agreements regarding the maximum and minimum amount of the award. Often the parties reach an agreement in advance that the Plaintiff will walk away with a minimum amount, even if the Arbitrator does not find in their favor. Further, the Defense will agree to a maximum amount on the case, regardless of the amount the arbitrator awards. The client will be involved in this decision making process and fully aware of all the numbers on the table.
Arbitration v. Mediation
In a mediation, both sides have control over the situation to either accept the settlement, or reject it. In an arbitration, the decision is final and binding. Arbitration is a good option to consider when there is a dispute as to liability or there is a large disagreement on the extent of damages and injuries sustained by the Plaintiff. Mediation is better when liability is clear and the parties reasonably agree that with the assistance of a third party, they likely can reach a final settlement on the case. Both have costs associated with them to pay a third party, however, Arbitration is final and mediation could end in no settlement being reached and still having to go forward with a trial.
The Attorneys at Pikrallidas and Associates have been involved in many Arbitrations over the years and this has resulted in millions of dollars in Arbitration decisions for our injured clients. Please call the Attorney’s at Pikrallidas & Associates to discuss options for Arbitration on your case today.
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Pikrallidas & Associates is located in Fairfax, VI and serves clients in and around Fairfax, West Mclean, Oakton, Merrifield, Vienna, Annandale, Dunn Loring, Clifton, Fairfax Station, Mount Vernon, Falls Church, Reston, Chantilly, Mc Lean, Greenway, Centreville, Springfield, Herndon, Fairfax County, Fairfax City County, Falls Church City County and Manassas Park City County.
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