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PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS: OPTIONS TO LITIGATION IN CALIFORNIA

Arbitration involves a neutral person who reviews evidence, hears arguments from all sides of the issue and resolves the dispute with a decision.

For victims of motor vehicle accidents caused by someone else, there are many options through which they can seek compensation to help them recover. As we’ve noted many times, a skilled advocate can be helpful in negotiating an appropriate settlement from responsible parties. On those occasions when settlement isn’t agreed upon, other legal remedies such as trial or alternative dispute resolution may be considered.

The Judicial Council of California sets out an explanation of the different types of ADR options in the state. When case circumstances warrant it, resolving claims without a lawsuit can be beneficial to all sides. There are three common types of ADR: mediation, case evaluation and arbitration.

In mediation, a neutral person known as the mediator helps the parties reach an agreement. He or she doesn’t decide the matter, and the process works well when the parties have a continuing relationship such as family members and neighbors. It may not be as effective if one of the parties is a victim of the other in some way.

Arbitration involves a neutral person who reviews evidence, hears arguments from all sides of the issue and resolves the dispute with a decision. This is known as an award. It is usually less costly than a lawsuit, and a resolution can be reached faster than in court. California provides for two types of arbitration. When the parties agree to private arbitration, the matter takes place outside of the courts and is generally binding or final. Judicial arbitration applies when the referral to the process is made by the court. Unless the parties agree to it, these decisions are not binding. A trial can be held anyway, but the requestor may have to pay a penalty if the same decision is reached. These arbitrations are good choices if the parties have no relationship except for the matter at hand.

Also popular as an ADR option is a case evaluation wherein a neutral party known as the evaluator presents an opinion about each party’s position strengths and weaknesses. Hearing each other’s evidence and arguments can open the door to reaching a settlement agreement. The evaluator objectively values the case or provides an opportunity for complex technicalities to be resolved.

Source: Judicial Council of California, “Here are some other ways to resolve a dispute” accessed Jan. 16, 2015

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