When Arbitration and Mediation Meet Personal Injury

What to know if your case goes to alternate dispute resolution in Colorado

By Super Lawyers staff

Only a small percentage of personal injury claims ever go to litigation. Instead, for the most part, they are settled outside of the courtroom. For example, for cases involving minor or moderate injuries, an insurance company may agree to settle the claim through informal negotiations within weeks of the accident.

However, in some cases, more intensive and structured forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) are required. Two of the most common methods of ADR used by plaintiffs and defendants are arbitration and mediation.

An Overview of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Colorado

Both arbitration and mediation let parties resolve legal claims in a structured and formal environment without actually going through litigation. For personal injury claims, this can be advantageous because litigation is often a long and expensive process. Before entering either arbitration or mediation, injured victims should have a basic understanding of what is involved with these legal procedures.

  1. Arbitration: As explained by the American Bar Association (ABA), arbitration is a private process whereby a dispute is brought before a disinterested third party who will make a final decision. In many ways, arbitration is like a mini more-efficient version of a trial: Parties will get the chance to make an opening statement, present evidence and witnesses, and offer counterarguments to points made by the other party. At the conclusion of the process, one or more neutral arbitrators will make a binding and legally enforceable decision.
  2. Mediation: In contrast to arbitration, mediation is a non-binding form of alternative dispute resolution. The Colorado Judicial Branch notes that mediation is a dynamic and interactive process where a neutral, trained third party helps to facilitate a resolution between two or more opposing sides. As mediation is voluntary, it is generally the most effective when the two sides are in reach of a settlement, but are still caught up some key issues.

Should you arbitrate your Colorado personal injury case? Or should you mediate your Colorado personal injury case? These are complicated questions that do not have simple or straightforward answers. Before entering arbitration or mediation, it is crucial that you speak to a lawyer. This is especially important with arbitration, as any decision made by the arbitrator is binding. It is very difficult to challenge an arbitration ruling; there are only limited grounds for appeal. 

How a Colorado Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Large corporations and big insurance companies are fundamentally interested in protecting their own financial interests. Above all else, their goal is to resolve personal injury lawsuits for the lowest amount possible. As such, injured victims need strong legal representation. Whether your case is going through litigation, arbitration, mediation, or another type of dispute resolution, an experienced Colorado personal injury lawyer will protect your legal rights.

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