Binding Arbitration: When Not to Go to Court
I find that many clients assume the best way to win their case is to take it to court and make sure that it is heard by a judge and jury. The truth of the matter is that a trial isn’t always the best (or fastest) way to go about it.
For instance, I recently worked with a client who was injured by an uninsured driver and made a claim for underinsured motorist coverage. Our first step was to submit a demand to the insurance companies. They made an offer of $20,000. That might seem like a fair amount of money, but the reality of the situation was that it only covered the medical bills.
Rather than taking the matter to court, we demanded arbitration with the insurance carriers. They agreed to meet for voluntary mediation. During the mediation, the insurance carriers upped their offer to $30,000. However, they refused to negotiate any further.
I knew that my client deserved more than this, so we went to binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is like a very informal, mini trial in which the rules of evidence don’t apply. Instead, an impartial third party is brought in to hear both sides and decide on a ruling. In this case, the arbitrators came back with an award of $50,000 — $20,000 more than the insurance companies had offered us!
It just goes to show that sometimes the best course of action is to utilize binding arbitration when it is allowed. This kind of hearing can be efficient for settling claims and can result in rewards that are substantially higher than the original offers.
If you or someone you know has been wrongfully injured, be sure to contact an experienced lawyer at Oxner + Permar. With more than $275 million in awards and settlements, we know how to make wrongs, right.