Would you rather have a jury or an arbitrator decide your personal injury lawsuit?
The personal injury claim process can be both lengthy and stressful. It is often advantageous for the other side — the insurance company — to know that you are willing to take the case to trial if necessary. But when it comes down to it, is it better to have a jury or an arbitrator decide your case?
Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It involves having a neutral third party — an arbitrator — sit down with both parties to help them achieve a resolution. The arbitrator hears evidence, and then makes a decision as to who wins the case and the amount of damages to be awarded. The arbitration is similar to a trial, but is less formal. There are many advantages to arbitration. It is typically faster than going through the litigation process, and there is more flexibility in crafting a settlement. It is also less expensive than a typical trial. The arbitrator can be selected by both parties, so that each party has a say in choosing who gets to make the ultimate decision in their case. Arbitration may be binding or non-binding. If it is non-binding, the parties may reject the arbitrator’s determination and go to trial. Unlike a trial, arbitration is confidential.
At trial, the parties are bound by a strict set of rules (such as the California Rules of Evidence). This can be a positive or a negative, depending on the type of evidence that you are trying to have admitted or excluded. The judge is assigned, rather than selected, and the trial process can be lengthy. A trial is open to the public, and any decision made is final (subject to appeal).
While arbitration is often a good choice for many people involved in personal injury case, the question of whether it is better to have a jury or an arbitrator decide your lawsuit depends on the facts of the case. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you make an informed decision about the best way to resolve your claim favorably.