Court Time for Personal Injury Claims
When you make a personal injury claim, you may be required to appear in court; however, many injury claims can be settled through the processes of negotiation, mediation or arbitration.
Negotiation is a process that typically involves making a few phone calls to an insurance claims adjuster. Your attorney will do this for you, acting on your legal behalf. During these communications, your lawyer will generally make points about the claim and discuss what can be done. The adjuster may then make a settlement offer, which you and your lawyer will discuss. Your lawyer may counter with a higher amount than the adjuster offered, and they may go back and forth a few times, or you and your lawyer may decide to accept the settlement.
Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party mediates the negotiation process. Also referred to as an alternative dispute resolution, mediation is commonly used in personal injury claims. Mediators use a variety of techniques to encourage and improve dialogue between the two disputing parties and help them reach an agreement.
Arbitration is another form of alternative dispute resolution in which a neutral third party intervenes to help the parties resolve the case. The arbitrator(s) review the evidence in the case, hear arguments from both sides and ultimately reach a decision that is legally binding for both parties to follow. Unlike mediation, where the decision of the mediator is non-binding, arbitration is more like appearing before a judge - the arbitrator(s) will hear testimony and impose a legally binding agreement. In mediation, if a settlement is not reached, the mediator does not have the authority to impose one.
Because each case is different, you and your lawyer will need to evaluate the complexity of your claim and decide the best course of action. If you do end up having to appear in court, your lawyer will advise you on how the legal proceedings work and what you can expect from the procedure. Times spent in court for personal injury claims can vary, but if your lawyer recommends going to court, it is most likely within your best interests to do so.
For more details and information, please refer to our Personal Injury Questions at getflexner.com.
The Law Offices of Richard Flexner will always consult with the client prior to the institution of formal litigation. If you've been injured and are concerned about appearing in court, we encourage you to contact us for a consultation. Call 1-800-FLEXNER (353-9637) today to learn more.