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Are Mediation and Arbitration Available for California Personal Injury Suits?

In the family law sphere, mediation and arbitration are commonplace as both methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) operate to help quarreling parties narrow the issues that need to be considered by the court. While each method of ADR differs slightly from the other, both can generally save litigants time and resources. These same benefits are usually available to California personal injury litigants who choose to utilize arbitration or mediation. However, whereas ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution, usually mediation or arbitration) may be mandatory in some types of cases, choosing to resolve your personal injury lawsuit through arbitration or mediation may not be the best course of action.

What is Arbitration? What is Mediation?

 When parties choose to arbitrate their dispute, they submit their lawsuit (or certain contested issues in their lawsuit) to a third-party arbitrator. The arbitrator hears evidence and arguments from the parties in a sort of expedited trial and then renders a decision that may become binding on the parties. (Depending on how the arbitration is set up, the “losing” party may have a limited right to appeal or strike the findings of the arbitrator.)

Parties who choose to mediate their disputes meet with a mediator who attempts to assist the parties in coming to an agreement as to one or more outstanding issues in their case, perhaps settling the entire case.  Unlike arbitration, where a third party renders a decision, in mediation the parties are only bound to any agreement they may mutually reach.

Disadvantages of ADR in Personal Injury Lawsuits

 While ADR offers personal injury lawsuit litigants the same cost-saving benefits that are available to other types of litigants and others who choose to resolve their disputes using such methods, there are some disadvantages that personal injury lawsuit litigants should be aware of:

  • If an arbitrator renders a final decision and the parties have agreed to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator, then the losing party may have no other recourse available to him or her. Unlike some other cases in which issues may be routinely reviewed and modified, a binding arbitration decision in a personal injury lawsuit is final if not appealed.
  • Mediation sessions in which the parties do not have the benefit of counsel being present with them can lead to a personal injury victim agreeing to terms and conditions that may not be in their best interest. There may be other advantages to having the case heard by a judge or jury, too.

Look to Heiting & Irwin for Help in Resolving Your Personal Injury Case

 Do not attempt to resolve your personal injury lawsuit yourself. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by another person, contact Heiting & Irwin right away to learn about what steps you can take to protect yourself and your legal rights. Call (951) 682-6400, or reach out to the firm online.

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