If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence in an accident of any kind, seeking the compensation to which you are entitled is important to your recovery. The thought of going to court – when you have injuries, medical bills, and lost earnings to deal with – may be more than you want to take on at the moment. The fact is that most personal injury claims like yours are settled outside of court, and there are alternative dispute resolution options to consider. If you’re in this difficult situation, a dedicated Austin injury attorney with considerable experience successfully handling alternative dispute resolution for personal injury cases is standing by to help.
What’s In This Guide
- Your Accident Claim
- Negotiations with the Insurance Company
- Your Personal Injury Claim
Your Accident Claim
If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, your personal injury claim will directly address the losses (or legal damages) you’ve experienced. Such losses break down into three basic categories.
Your Medical Bills
You’ve been injured, and you’re going to have medical bills as a result. It’s important to recognize that if your injuries are serious, your medical expenses may be ongoing, and you can be facing secondary health issues. Common medical expenses include:
- Emergency care and transportation
- Surgical care
- Follow-up care
- Care and treatment from medical specialists and doctors
- Medical tests, procedures, and treatments
- Physical therapy, occupational therapy, or rehabilitation
- Pain management
- Prescription medications
- Home health care
- Adaptive physical devices
Your Lost Earnings
While you are recovering from your physical injuries, you’re likely to be off the job and earn less as a result. If your ability to return to work at the same level as you were before – or if your ability to continue advancing your career is affected – the financial damage can be even more significant.
Pain and Suffering
In addition to your financial losses, it’s important to address the physical and emotional pain and suffering you experience. These psychological damages are often as painful as they are difficult to move beyond.
Negotiations with the Insurance Company
Your personal injury claim will very likely be filed with the at-fault party’s insurance provider, and ensuring that your full range of physical, financial, and emotional losses are well represented is essential. From here, your seasoned personal injury attorney will skillfully negotiate for a fair claim resolution that allows you to move forward toward your most complete recovery. If the negotiation process, however, stalls, it doesn’t mean that a lawsuit is inevitable. An alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can begin.
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At mediation, you and your personal injury attorney and the other side will meet with a professional mediator who is a neutral third party to explore a settlement upon which you are both willing to agree. The pros of mediation include all the following:
- It’s less formal than court and is also a private matter.
- Decision-making power remains in your hands (instead of the court’s).
- It’s generally less time-consuming because you aren’t dealing with the court’s crowded docket.
- It’s typically considerably less expensive than going to court.
The professional mediator will help both sides get a better feel for what is likely to happen in court and weigh their best options within this context. Mediation is only binding if both sides are in agreement about the outcome and are willing to sign off on the results. If the insurance company refuses to budge or to address your complete damages fairly, you can move forward by filing a lawsuit.
Arbitration, like mediation, is private, and there is no jury involved. The primary difference between arbitration and mediation is that, in general, arbitration is binding, meaning that the decision handed down by the professional arbitrator, who is likely to be a former attorney or judge, is the final say in the matter. Unlike a decision that is handed down by the court, however, there is no appeals process for arbitration, and the arbitrator’s decision will typically be final. In claims involving personal injury protection (PIP) or uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, arbitration is sometimes contractually required. Arbitration can also be ordered by a judge, or both sides can voluntarily agree to the process.
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Arbitration affords the following advantages to court cases:
- There are typically fewer legal expenses.
- The rules of evidence are relaxed.
- There is no testifying in open court.
- The matter is generally resolved more quickly.
On the other hand, the following are often viewed as disadvantages:
- A professional arbitrator will decide your case’s outcome (rather than a jury).
- Discovery options are limited.
- Witness statements are not presented.
- There are few options for appealing the decision that is handed down.
Your Personal Injury Claim
In the end, the best path forward for your personal injury claim will be based on the circumstances involved, and your skilled personal injury attorney will help you make the right decisions for you. While your claim is unique, there are several basic steps that you can take to help protect it throughout the process (regardless of how it is ultimately resolved), including:
- Following your medical team’s healthcare plan from the start
- Hiring a knowledgeable personal injury attorney early in the process
- Leaving communications and negotiations with the insurance company to your attorney
- Turning your back on social media (refraining from posting) until your claim is finalized
If negotiations with the insurance company break down, it does not mean that court is your only option. Protecting your rights – in pursuit of your rightful compensation – however, is key. And your dedicated attorney has the experience with alternative dispute resolution for personal injury cases to help you find your best path forward.
Turn to an Experienced Austin Personal Injury Attorney for the Help You Need
The accomplished Austin personal injury attorneys at The Patel Firm are committed to helping you resolve your claim as advantageously as possible. To learn more, please don’t wait to contact or call us at 361-400-2036 today.