Mediation And Arbitration To Settle Injury Cases
Chicago accident and injury lawyers often use binding and non-binding arbitrations and mediations to resolve injury claims. They can be used for auto accident, premises liability, sex abuse, medical malpractice and many other types of injury cases.
Binding And Nonbinding Mediations
A mediation is a negotiation between two or more adverse parties with a neutral party acting as a mediator. Often retired judges act as mediators. The plaintiff and defendant enter a negotiation setting with a judge or other neutral acting as a go-between. There, the parties try to reach a settlement.
If a settlement cannot be reached in a binding mediation, the judge steps in and decides a fair amount to award the plaintiff for his or her damages. If there’s no agreement reached in a nonbinding setting, the parties will typically continue litigating and try to negotiate again in the future, or go to trial.
Binding And Nonbinding Arbitrations
An arbitration is a hearing where an arbitrator, or panel of arbitrators, act as judge and jury. The arbitrator(s) hears testimony and looks at evidence. The rules of evidence are typically somewhat relaxed, depending on the rules agreed upon by the parties. The arbitrator then makes a finding for the plaintiff or the defendant.
If the arbitrator finds for the plaintiff, he or she will then decide the amount of money to award. Like a mediation, an arbitration can be either binding or nonbinding.
The Benefits of Mediation or Arbitration
Arbitration and mediation can be very beneficial to plaintiffs, defendants and insurance companies. For a plaintiff, it can save time and money. It can often take years for a lawsuit to make its way through the courthouse. A mediation or arbitration can shorten the wait from years to months for a resolution.
Further, lawsuits can be expensive. There are filing fees, deposition costs, medical experts, etc. A lawyer will typically advance these costs for the client, but these expenses are reimbursed at the time of settlement. On the other hand, it is much less expensive to go to arbitration or mediation.
Defendants and insurance carriers also can reduce litigation expenses with arbitration or mediation. In addition to the costs listed above, insurance carriers are often paying lawyers hundreds of dollars an hour to defend them in court. A mediation or arbitration can greatly reduce that cost.
Further, insurance companies can use a mediation or arbitration to limit its exposure. Mediations and arbitrations often have high-low award limits which are predetermined by the parties.
For example, an arbitration involving an auto accident case may have a high-low agreement of $100,000 to $300,000. This means the plaintiff cannot receive an amount greater than $300,000 or less than $100,000.
If the arbitrator comes back with an award of $500,000, the plaintiff can only be awarded the high figure of $300,000. But, if the judge finds the defendant not guilty, the plaintiff still receives the low figure of $100,000. Both sides have limited their risk by agreeing upon a high and low dollar amount.
Arbitration For Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Claims
Auto insurance policies in Illinois typically call for binding arbitration for uninsured and underinsured motorist claims (UM and UIM claims) if a settlement cannot be reached by the parties. The high would be the limits of the insurance policy and the low would be zero, unless the parties agree to some other figure.
A Chicago Mediation & Arbitration Lawyer Can Help
If an accident has left you injured, the mediation and arbitration lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. are here to help. We offer free, no obligation consultations to all Chicago area injury victims . Do not wait if you have been injured, as there are time limits to move forward with your case. Call 312-924-7575 today.