So you’ve been in an automobile collision, and now you have a claim for your personal injuries. When you picture getting the most from your personal injury claim, you may visualize a courtroom drama unfolding around you, or you may picture the entire claim being resolved before any court documents are even filed. The truth is that both of these are possible outcomes. In most cases, the parties involved in the claim reach a settlement before trial, either through negotiations or settlement offers before the claim ever makes it before the court, in arbitration, or in mediation.
What is Pre-Litigation Settlement?
A pre-litigation settlement is an offer made by the at-fault party and accepted by the injured party to resolve the personal injury claim often well before a jury trial. A pre-litigation settlement benefits the injured party because the party responsible agrees to pay money damages without having to file court documents.
Pre-litigation settlements bring closure to the claim without having to leave important questions such as liability and damages to the members of a jury. Since pre-litigation settlement also comes well before any trial would begin, this option allows the injured party to receive compensation much earlier than if he took the matter to court. Getting paid sooner allows you to be compensated for your damages, medical treatments and other expenses that have been incurred due to injuries from the accident. Meanwhile, the insurance company also benefits as they are spared the expense of experts and legal fees.
Many times, insurance companies prefer settlements before trial, but it is important not to settle too early. If you settle too early, you risk losing out on a larger settlement. Taking a claim to court is always better than accepting an unfair settlement offer.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a lawsuit is heard by a neutral party, usually an attorney or former judge, who decides based if the person sued was at fault, and if so, how much should be awarded to the injured party for the accident. Arbitrations are usually used as a way to reduce the expenses of a full trial and to have a neutral evaluation of the claim when the parties cannot settle. In Washington, arbitration is mandatory as a part of the court-annexed arbitration program for cases brought in a county with more than 100,000 people if the amount at issue is less than $15,000 per injured party.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a second form of alternative dispute resolution where the parties seek to find agreement with the help of a neutral party, a mediator. The mediator acts as a neutral party encouraging the sides to discuss their interests and positions in a productive manner. Mediation requires complete agreement of the parties for a matter to be resolved.
But how often do personal injury claims actually go to court?
According to a study by the US Department of Justice, about three percent of cases for personal injury law that are filed with the court actually end up being resolved at court. This means that the remaining 97% of personal injury cases are resolved prior to their court date by pre-litigation settlement, arbitration, or mediation, as described above.
Professional Advice is Necessary
If you’ve been in a collision and need an attorney, choose the experienced attorneys at Van Law Firm to guide you through your case. Our experienced attorneys understand the different pre-litigation and alternative dispute resolution options and will use them to help your case to the most possible compensation for your accident, whether slip and fall or automotive collision. Call our office today for a free case evaluation and consultation.