An increasingly common method of solving personal injury cases in Missouri is for the plantiff and defendant to go to a process known as arbitration. While it avoids the hassle and expense of a potential jury trial, it could bring its own headaches, which is why you need an experienced Missouri personal injury lawyer on your side even if your case goes to arbitration.
So What Exactly Is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a resolution option that brings both parties together to settle a claim before a neutral adjudicator. While it shares a number of similarities with the trial process (like both parties bringing attorneys to represent them, as well as a court reporter being present to record the proceedings), there are several notable differences:
- Often times arbitration takes place in an office or conference-room setting instead of a courtroom.
- Instead of your case being assigned to a judge, both parties must mutually agree upon an arbitrator. This is most commonly a retired judge or experienced lawyer.
- The arbitrator’s decision may not actually be final. Both sides must determine beforehand whether or not the ruling is binding: if not, the arbitrator’s decision and award will only be an advisory one.
- Your award could potentially be capped. Insurance companies commonly ask for a high-low agreement before arbitration begins. While this may assure you a certain minimum award, the cap is beneficial for insurance companies, as they are protected from a large judgment.
Might I Be Required To Go To Arbitration?
If you are in a car accident and are injured, it’s increasingly likely you may be prevented from suing an insurer and bringing your case in front of a judge. A growing number of insurance companies are including clauses in their policies that require all disputes to be settled in binding arbitration. Insurance companies like this option because it shields them from large jury awards, providing cost certainty. Furthermore, if you do bring a lawsuit and it turns out your policy had this clause, it’ll not only be dismissed but you may be on the hook for the insurance company’s legal costs. Look over your policy carefully for a section entitled “Alternative Dispute Resolution” to see if your auto insurance policy requires you to go to arbitration.
You Still Need Someone In Your Corner–Even If You Don’t Go To Trial
Regardless of whether your Missouri personal injury case goes to court or to arbitration, a top St. Louis personal injury attorney is key to getting the settlement you deserve. Amanda Hayden is an all-around advocate who is dedicated to protecting your rights with compassion and provides the one-on-one representation you deserve. Call her today at (314) 480-3100, or use our online contact form for a no-risk consultation.