Arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolution wherein the parties agree, either prior to or after an injury occurs, to resolve their legal disputes before a third-party rather than before the Court. Arbitration typically arises in the personal injury context when the injured individual previously signed a contract with defendant company, and the contract contained an arbitration provision.
While arbitration does not take place before the Court, it is similar to a court proceeding in many ways. During arbitration proceedings, your attorney will present evidence, question witnesses, and carry out duties similar to those undertaken at trial before the Court.
Because the rules of arbitration can vary depending on the specific contract language, attorneys in arbitration proceedings can also help you understand the particulars of your proceedings and protect your right to receive a fair hearing. Limitations imposed by contract may be intended to streamline the arbitration process, but these limitations cannot preclude a fundamentally fair process for hearing and deciding claims.
As a general rule, personal injury plaintiffs should opt to litigate their claims rather than arbitrate. Litigation can be less expensive and is overseen by an impartial judge, whereas arbitration presents concerns regarding both cost and impartiality.