Mediation Versus Arbitration
Before we continue any discussion about arbitration, it is important to understand the difference between the two.
Mediation provides a flexible alternative to arbitration and can start before or even during an arbitration case. It is an informal process where an impartial mediator, usually a judge or a retired judge, facilitates the negotiations between the disputing parties. They do not make a final determination. Their job is to help the two parties involved come to a mutually acceptable agreement. Mediation is a voluntary process, so your attorney or the other party can decide to stop the mediation process at any time. More than 80% of mediations result in a settlement, and the process is usually faster than arbitration.
Arbitration is similar to going to court; however, it is less complex than litigation and usually faster and less expensive. In arbitration, the two parties choose a neutral third party called an arbitrator to resolve the dispute. Unlike mediation, the arbitrator's decision, also known as an award, is final and binding. There are advantages and disadvantages to arbitration. The advantages include:
● It is more cost-effective.
● Cases are usually resolved faster.
● Generally, it is easier to present your case.
● You do not have to stress about testifying in court.
The disadvantages include:
● Your case is not determined by a jury but by a professional.
● The arbitrator doesn't have the opportunity to listen to and evaluate witnesses directly.
● Discovery is limited.
● Your options to appeal may be limited.
Why Some Claims Go To Arbitration
Should a personal injury case go to trial or arbitration, the outcome of the claim may be affected. It is important that you know about the two forms of arbitration, which we will explain below.
Often, the parties look at the time, work, and costs of a court trial and agree that arbitration will be a faster and more cost-effective way to solve the dispute between them. Both sides will select the third party and agree in advance that they will respect and accept the decision of the arbitrator. In arbitration, the process tends to flow smoothly as it may allow more freedom when presenting evidence. After the agreement, both sides will present evidence in one or several hearings until the arbitrator makes a final determination.
In some situations, you may have no choice but to go to arbitration if you signed an arbitration clause. An arbitration clause is a written provision in a contract stating that you agree that any disputes between the parties will be settled in arbitration rather than at court. Arbitration clauses are included in many contracts. They are often inserted to reduce the cost of litigation. Arbitration clauses are difficult to escape since the majority of them are upheld as valid and binding on both parties. However, some mandatory arbitration clauses in terms of service have been overturned in court or abandoned by companies.
If you find that your personal injury claim is bound by an arbitration clause, that doesn’t mean you should not proceed or have already lost, but you will need an attorney. Michael Babboni, The St. Pete Lawyer, can help. With over 27 years of experience, Michael can represent your case in arbitration and, if needed, take your claim all the way to court. Give him a call at 1-727-381-9200 to get started.