Using Arbitration or Mediation to Resolve your Personal Injury Case
Suing a company or person for negligence in a personal injury lawsuit leads most plaintiffs to think they will have a day in court and hear a jury deliver a verdict, hopefully, in their favor. While there is a lot of psychological satisfaction that comes with having a jury of one’s peers evaluate the bad behavior of the defendant, this route may not always be the best way to bring resolution to a claim. Arbitration, mediation, or, even, straightforward negotiation with a party can offer a quicker conclusion with less cost and an immediate payout. Jury trials, on the other hand, often occur after years of procedural delays, are quite costly, and may not end with a decision in the plaintiff’s favor. Further, defendants are entitled to appeal a jury’s decision, which means the injured party will likely have to wait even longer before he/she receives any compensation. The downside to an alternative resolution option is that the settlement or award is often much less than one can expect from a jury. However, these alternatives are worth considering if a party is seeking an abbreviated closure of the incident, and sometimes, parties are forced into another resolution forum due to legal obligations.
Arbitration is a less formal version of a trial heard by a neutral decision-maker. The arbitrator will evaluate arguments and evidence presented by both sides similar to a judge, and often, the introduction of evidence is subject to the types of procedural rules used in a traditional trial. In fact, Florida has a number of laws regulating arbitration procedure that govern how the process works. The arbitrator’s decision is usually binding on both parties, and the ability to appeal is somewhat limited, so this decision is final in many disputes. If a decision is binding, it is enforceable in court, which ensures the liable party will pay a money award as a result.
Many disagreements end up in arbitration due to contract clauses that require all legal claims be decided in this forum. These clauses block someone from filing a lawsuit in court, and are favored by companies because they keeps negligence claims out of the public eye, the process is less expensive, and the money awards are lower. Gyms and hospitals are examples of industries that routinely use arbitration clauses to control where disputes are resolved. In addition, though, parties can agree to use an arbitrator, and negotiate whether the decision will be binding or not.
Mediation is a dispute resolution process that is more informal than arbitration, and involves a neutral third party assisting the parties with forming their settlement agreement. This process is usually voluntary, and can be binding or non-binding. Mediators cannot offer legal advice, so parties should have their own lawyers present to advise them on the negotiation strategy and the legal consequences of the terms of a settlement agreement. An advantage of mediation is that the parties craft their own solutions to their problems, which means the resolutions are tailored to the needs of the parties and can offer more flexibility or creativity than the resolutions available from a court. Florida courts support and encourage parties to explore mediation as a resolution option to traditional lawsuits by providing litigants access to mediation resources while a case is pending.
Work with a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have suffered an injury due to someone’s negligence, do not hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer to evaluate your claim. Whether you choose to pursue a traditional lawsuit or an alternative resolution option, having an experienced lawyer at your side can make all the difference in receiving the compensation you deserve. The lawyers at the Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado understand the how difficult these injuries are, and will fight to hold the responsible party accountable. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.