Arbitration is one of the ways of settling accident disputes. One of the advantages of arbitration is that, due to its informal nature, it may be faster than the court process. However, there is always a risk that one party (often the defendant or the insurance company) may start the process at an advantage. Here are some measures to level the playing field:
Have a Say on the Choice of Arbitrator
The arbitrator is supposed to handle the process impartially, which means he or she shouldn't be affiliated with either of you. Therefore, it is best if you also have a say on who gets to arbitrate your case. Typical arbitrators include retired judges, lawyers with years of experience or others with good understanding of the legal process.
This is one of the advantages of having a lawyer represent you at the arbitration; he or she can reject an arbitrator who has ties with the insurance company. If you go it alone, then you may be deluded into thinking that the insurer has the clout to do as it pleases.
Full Disclosure of Information about the Arbitrator
You can only make a decision on whether or not an arbitrator may be biased if you have full information about him or her. For example, you need to know his or her:
- Business deals – Does he or she have other business relationships with the issuer?
- Level of experience – Has he or she arbitrated other cases before?
- Reputation – If he or she is a former judge, for example, were there many complaints of unfairness about him or her during his or her practice years?
Access to All Potential Remedies
Depending on the nature of your injury, your case (if it goes to trial) may result in several damages, including loss of income, medical bills, punitive damages, loss of consortium and many others. If the case is undergoing arbitration, ensure that you have the option of getting all these remedies.
Even if it isn't necessary, it makes sense to have your lawyer present during the arbitration. The insurance company will have its lawyer present. Moreover, it's likely that they have handled similar cases in the past. You don't want to go against such experienced persons with your layman knowledge.
After all is said and done, don't forget that arbitration is a voluntary process, and you cannot be forced into it. With your lawyer's advice, examine the circumstances and nature of your injuries and choice of arbitrator, and decide whether it is something you want. If you need a personal injury lawyer, visit Arrington Schelin & Munsey PC.