Resolving a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the insurance company can often be a frustrating and complex process, which is why it is so important that you hire a board certified Dallas-Fort Worth personal injury attorney to help make sure that you receive the full and fair compensation you deserve under Texas law.
Many of the cases we handle at our law firm are settled before they have to go to trial, although it is necessary to try your case in front of a jury in court if that is the best chance of recovering the most compensation. Sometimes, however, alternative approaches can be explored such as mediation or arbitration. It all depends on why is best for your particular case.
How Arbitration Works
A simplistic explanation of the process of arbitration is that the lawyers for both sides (the injured party and the liable insurance company) plead their case to an independent and unbiased arbitrator. The arbitrator then makes their decision based on the evidence and decides the amount of damages which should be awarded. Usually, both sides agree to accept whatever decision the arbitrator hands down as binding, although this is not always the case.
The following bullet points are designed to give you a better understanding of how an experienced injury attorney might approach the process of arbitration on an injured client’s behalf:
- Do both parties agree to the process of arbitration?
- Do both parties agree to who will act as the arbitrator? (Normally, an independent, unbiased lawyer or retired judge is chosen)
- Who will pay the arbitrator’s fees? The winner, the loser, or will both side split the fee evenly?
- Will the arbitrator’s decision be binding on both sides? Although it is customary for arbitration to result in a final, binding verdict, that is not necessarily always the case. If the arbitration is non-binding, it can still be beneficial going forward in the settlement process, or later to trial. What’s best for your case will depend on the unique details of your case.
- What are the limits of any award determined by the arbitrator? It is possible to negotiate limits on the amount of compensation awarded ahead of time by providing the arbitrator with a minimum and maximum amount of compensation which should be offered. Arbitration in this case is not generally in the best interest of an injury victim, however, as a jury would possibly order a settlement of significantly more.
- What is actually being arbitrated? In many cases, arbitration will be used to determine the entire outcome of your claim, including the total amount of damages that will be awarded. Arbitration does not necessarily have to determine all of this, however. It is possible to arbitrate just to determine who was at fault for your injuries, to firmly establish that yes, the insurance company is indeed liable. This way, your attorney may have better footing to negotiate a greater settlement on your behalf.
- How will evidence be presented to the arbitrator? Since lawyers on both sides are mutually agreeing to the process of arbitration, they also need to mutually agree to how the process will actually work? Will cases be pleaded as in court? Can multimedia presentations be used or will all evidence be submitted in the form of paper documents? Can medical evidence be presented simply through medical records, or in an expert testimony required?
Although arbitration is generally much quicker and less expensive than a trial, the circumstances of your personal injury case will determine whether or not arbitration is in actuality a wise option in your circumstances. In our experience, most accident victims benefit from settling a claim in normal fashion—through our court system with a resolution in front of our jury of our peers.
Get a Free Consultation on Your Personal Injury Case
Our board certified personal injury lawyers have been helped in seriously injured individuals get the fair compensation they deserve in Dallas-Fort Worth and throughout Texas for more than 20 years. For a free, no obligation consultation on your personal injury or wrongful death case, please give us a call toll free at 800-354-6275. Alternatively, you may call us locally in Fort Worth at 817-294-1900 or in Dallas at 214-327-8000.
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