If you’ve been injured in a car accident, truck accident, or another vehicle crash, your legal team may help you seek compensation through arbitration rather than a court trial. This process involves hard work on your lawyer’s part and quite a bit of patience from you and your family. However, when you understand how the process of arbitration works in Georgia car crash cases, you can better trust your attorneys to get the job done.
Here’s what crash victims should know about the arbitration process.
What Is Arbitration?
Arbitration is the legal process of settling a dispute out of court where an arbitrator reviews the facts of the dispute and decides on the outcome. (Judicial Council of Georgia) An arbitrator is an unbiased third party who acts as a sort of judge that determines who’s at fault and what the at-fault party should pay as compensation for damages. Arbitrators are typically professional judges or lawyers.
In a vehicle accident case, this process typically occurs after an insurance company has offered a victim a very low settlement and they refuse any further negotiations. It replaces having to go to court to present evidence and receive a settlement decision from a jury.
Types of Arbitration Decisions
There are two types of arbitration that can happen in any case, including a car accident claim.
- Binding arbitration is when the decision the arbitrator makes is final. It typically cannot be appealed or overturned and each party must abide by the rules of the decision. In some binding arbitrations, the insurance company may ask for a high-low agreement, which would allow them to set the maximum and minimum settlement amount.
- Non-binding arbitration is when the arbitrator’s decision is not final and either party can have the case reviewed—and have the decision potentially overturned during a trial. However, there may be some stipulations, such as both parties’ agreement or a time limit to accept the decision, that make it binding (final).
Your legal team can evaluate your case and determine whether a binding or non-binding arbitration is best for your circumstances.
Do You Have to Go Through Arbitration?
Some cases are forced to go through arbitration. However, this can depend on the state you live in and the clauses of the insurance policy contract. In Georgia, a driver whose actions caused the accident is considered at fault. Since we live in an at-fault state, an at-fault drivers’ insurance company is required to provide compensation to the other party for damages, injuries, and losses. So, insurance companies cannot force these cases into arbitration through policy clauses or other means.
Since Georgia has voluntary arbitration, your car accident case will only go to arbitration if your legal team and the insurance company both agree to it. If one party does not, then your case is likely to go to court.
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The Process of Arbitration
In a car accident case, your legal team would represent you and another legal team would represent the at-fault party or their insurance company. Here’s how an arbitration hearing typically goes:
- Each side provides an opening statement. This outlines what evidence they’ll be presenting and what outcome they’re asking for from the arbitrator.
- Both parties use evidence to argue their case. Your lawyer may provide witness testimony and police reports of the accident, medical records of your injuries, and other supporting documentation that proves the other party was at fault and you need compensation to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
- The hearing ends with closing statements. This is where both sides will summarize the evidence they presented and how that supports the outcome they want from the arbitration.
You may be required to attend the arbitration hearing, which may take a few hours to complete.
Benefits of Pursuing Arbitration
Arbitration can be a great way to recover a worthwhile settlement after being injured in a car or truck accident. Here are some key benefits to consider:
- More efficient: An arbitration hearing can take a few hours, but a trial hearing can take days or longer to complete. In addition, you often get your compensation sooner, too.
- Easier to schedule: It likely won’t take as long to get an arbitration hearing date as it would to get a court date. That also speeds up the entire process of getting the compensation you need.
- Privacy: Arbitration is a private process, meaning the case records won’t be public knowledge, which can protect your privacy regarding your health status.
- Less formal: Arbitration is less formal than a trial, which can mean arbitrators may accept pieces of evidence that may not otherwise be allowed in court.
- More cost-effective: Arbitration may cost less money to pursue, which means more money from your settlement in your pocket.
Negotiations, Arbitration, and Trials: We Handle it All
At Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, we can represent you during arbitration, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and advocate for your rights in court if necessary. Our Georgia attorneys have helped recover thousands of dollars in compensation for victims of car accidents, truck accidents, and other vehicle crashes.
Contact us for a free case evaluation today. We can tell you what you need to know about the arbitration process.