What is Arbitration for a Car Accident?
There are many ways to resolve a personal injury claim. You can do it through a lawsuit that goes to trial, an out-of-court settlement, or an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process like mediation or arbitration. The California legal system allows for ADR.
Instead of going through traditional litigation, you and the other parties can agree to resolve the car accident claim through ADR, saving money and time. ADR also gives you control over the process itself and the final results.
LA Century Law is committed to pursuing a favorable result for your car accident case. Consult with our attorneys serving Century City and the surrounding areas to understand your legal options.
Understanding Arbitration for Car Accidents In California
Arbitration is an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process used to resolve disputes outside the court system. It is similar to mediation, but instead of a mediator, an arbitrator (an agreed-upon person) decides how the dispute will be resolved. Each party presents its case to the arbitrator, who then decides based on the evidence and arguments presented.
There are two types of arbitration available in California: binding and non-binding.
- Binding arbitration means both parties agree to be bound by the arbitrator’s decision. This is the most common type of arbitration used in car accident cases.
- Non-binding arbitration means that either party can choose to reject the arbitrator’s decision and go to court instead.
Arbitration differs from mediation because a mediator does not decide how the case will be resolved. Instead, the mediator helps the two sides communicate and come to their own agreement. But they have no power to rule for either side. On the other hand, an arbitrator hears both sides of the story and makes a binding or non-binding decision about how the case will be resolved.
While arbitration can be a faster and cheaper way to resolve a dispute, it is important to remember that you might be giving up your right to have your case decided by a judge or jury. As such, you should always consult with an attorney before agreeing to arbitrate your car accident case.
When Car Accident Arbitration is Appropriate
One of the main reasons a claim goes to arbitration is when the insurer provides a lowball offer and refuses to negotiate. Some insurance firms include clauses in their policy contract that require arbitration when a dispute can’t be resolved. In this case, the arbitrator can resolve the dispute without the formality, expense, and time of a trial.
Arbitration is also suitable for complex cases where both parties want a decision-maker with experience or training in car accident cases. The arbitration may be mandated in cases where the amount in question will be, at most, $50,000 per plaintiff. But this requirement can be waived if both parties provide valid reasons why they believe a jury should try the case.
Arbitration, especially binding arbitration, may not be appropriate if parties want to maintain control over resolving their dispute. In binding arbitration, neither you nor the other party can appeal the arbitrator’s decision, even if the law or evidence does not support it.
How the Arbitration Process Works for Car Accidents
Arbitration is a dispute resolution process that takes place outside the court system. In arbitration, both parties to the dispute either agree or are mandated to have their case heard by an impartial third party, known as an arbitrator. An arbitration hearing for a car accident notice is then issued within 120 days of the arbitrator being appointed.
Like court proceedings, the parties present their case to the arbitrator as they would in court. They will make an opening statement, call witnesses, present evidence, analyze the other side’s witnesses, and make closing remarks.
The entire car accident arbitration process takes a few hours to complete. The arbitrator will consider evidence from both sides and then make a decision. In California, this decision can be binding or non-binding, depending on what both parties agree.
In most cases, an arbitrator’s award is final and entered as the judgment unless one party files a Request for Trial (trial de novo) within 60 days after the car accident arbitration award is filed with the court. But if the party filing a request for trial doesn’t get a ruling more favorable than the arbitrator’s award, they may be charged the extra fees and costs associated with the trial.
While arbitration can be a helpful way to resolve disputes, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of a successful outcome.
- First, it’s important to prepare in advance. Gather any evidence that will support your case, such as witness statements or photographs.
- You should also make sure you understand how to fight with insurance companies, as they may try to argue that you are at fault. California law follows pure comparative negligence, which the defense may use to reduce the amount they have to pay.
- If you’re considering arbitration, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer. A lawyer will be familiar with the process and can help you understand your rights and options. They can also help you negotiate with the other side and prepare your case.
Request a Consultation for Your Car Accident Claim
If you’ve been in a car accident, the arbitration process may be something you have to go through to get the compensation you deserve. But it’s important to understand your rights and options before you agree to anything. Our attorneys at LA Century Law can help. We’ve represented injured people in car accident cases like you and have a proven track record of success.
Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation. We’ll review your case and help you understand your options.
Car Accident Arbitration FAQs
From a plaintiff’s perspective, what are the benefits and downsides of arbitration?
The main benefit of arbitration is that it can be cheaper and faster than going to court. It’s also typically less formal, which can be helpful if you’re uncomfortable with the court system. The downside is that arbitration can be binding, which means you may not be able to appeal the decision.
How do I prepare for an arbitration?
Although arbitration for car accidents is less formal, preparing in advance is still important. Gather any evidence that will support your cases, such as witness statements or photographs. Your evidence and testimony should comply with California Rule of Court 3.820, barring ex parte communication with the arbitrator.
Can discovery continue once the case has been assigned to arbitration?
Yes. The parties can still conduct discovery under the California Rules of Court, which includes taking depositions and requesting documents. However, this should be done at least 15 days before the arbitration date.