If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by the negligence of someone else, you’ll very likely need just compensation that covers the full extent of your losses to regain your health and well-being to the fullest extent possible. To begin, you’ll file your personal injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider, but obtaining a fair settlement can be far more challenging than you may realize. If the settlement process stalls, arbitration for personal injury claims may be a good option (depending upon the circumstances involved). When it comes to making decisions of this magnitude, working closely with a dedicated injury law firm who has extensive experience successfully guiding claims like yours through the arbitration process is in your best interest.
What’s in This Guide
- Arbitration for Personal Injury Claims
- How Arbitration Works
- Binding vs. Nonbinding Arbitration
- The Right to Appeal
- Your Personal Injury Claim
Arbitration for Personal Injury Claims
Arbitration for personal injury claims in the State of Texas is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that can help move the settlement process forward and, depending upon the circumstances involved, can be an excellent option. If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused by someone else, the thought of going to trial may be overwhelming, but if the insurance company is not forthcoming with a fair settlement offer, it may feel as if your claim is destined for the courtroom. Arbitration, however, may be a better alternative (depending upon the circumstances involved).
How Arbitration Works
Arbitration is designed to help resolve disputes between parties, but arbitration is a less formal process than the one involved with going to trial, which can help make some claimants more comfortable. For example, the idea of having a jury determine the outcome of your case during formal court proceedings may be more than you are currently ready to handle (in the vulnerable position you find yourself in). If you and the at-fault party’s insurance company both agree to arbitration, a neutral third party who is a professional arbitrator will fill a role that is very similar to the role judges fill in court. In addition to being less formal, arbitration for personal injury claims has the following advantages:
- It is generally less time-consuming because you will not need to find a spot on the court’s overly crowded docket.
- It is generally less expensive because your attorney will not need to prepare for the more formal court process (although he or she will be well prepared to skillfully advocate for your rights and rightful compensation throughout the arbitration process).
- The outcome of arbitration (and the arbitration process) is private, while court proceedings are a matter of public record.
Binding vs. Nonbinding Arbitration
The process for binding arbitration and for nonbinding arbitration is the same, which includes the following:
- Both sides agree to the selection of an arbitrator, who will guide the proceedings and will provide the relevant rules and procedures.
- Much like a judge at trial, the arbitrator will listen to both sides’ claims, including their statements, evidence, witness testimony, expert testimony, and reports (as applicable).
- The rules of arbitration, such as those related to admissible evidence, are generally more relaxed than they are in court. At arbitration, the arbitrator receives the evidence in question and makes an informed decision regarding how much weight it should carry.
- When the matter involved in the claim is highly technical or requires highly specific knowledge, the parties can agree to an arbitrator who is qualified in the specific topic at hand – rather than looking to a judge who may not have any expertise in the matter.
- The arbitrator issues a ruling that is either binding or is not.
If the arbitration is binding, the arbitrator’s ruling can be enforced by the court, and if it is not, the outcome is more like mediation – and is only enforceable by the court if both parties sign off on it.
The Right to Appeal
An important point to make regarding the distinction between going to court or going to arbitration for personal injury claims is your right to appeal. If you go to court, you have the right to appeal the court’s decision in the matter of your personal injury claim. If you go to binding arbitration instead, you have no such right. In very specific situations, you may have a legal basis for vacating an arbitration outcome, but generally, the outcome of your arbitration is legally binding.
Your Personal Injury Claim
If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, you will seek compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional losses (called legal damages) via a personal injury claim that you file with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. These losses (referred to as damages by the law) can include all the following:
- Property damage (such as to your vehicle in a traffic accident claim)
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages related to lost hours on the job
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
Ensuring that these damages are well represented in your claim is a very important component of advocating for just compensation that allows you to reach your fullest recovery.
Because your personal injury claim is unique to you and the situation involved, there is no ready answer to whether or not arbitration is a good option for your claim. The circumstances that are involved, the strength of the available evidence, the degree of your losses, and more will all go into the decision-making process. Your skilled personal injury attorney will help you make the right decisions for you throughout the legal process, including those related to arbitration.
Discuss Arbitration for Personal Injury Claims with an Experienced Austin Personal Injury Attorney
The seasoned Austin personal injury attorneys at The Patel Firm are well versed at skillfully handling arbitration for personal injury claims, including knowing when arbitration is the best option for you. Our legal team is on your side, and because your claim is too important to leave to chance, you should not delay contacting or calling us at 361-400-2036 for more information about how we can help you today.