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There are several ways in which your personal injury case may be resolved, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.
Mutually agreed upon settlement: This means that both sides were able to reach an agreeable amount of money to settle a personal injury claim. This can happen at any time during the process of a case. This is usually the best way to resolve a case because it is the least expensive to the plaintiff. A trial can be a costly undertaking. The only drawback is that both parties must be willing to compromise.
Mediation: This is the process in which all sides agree to sit with an independent mediator (a person specially trained in dispute resolution) to discuss the case. The mediator hears the position of both sides then assesses the value of the case. He or she will then try to get both sides to agree upon a fair amount of money to settle the case. This is always a good option because it is not binding. Both sides are free to disregard the mediator’s suggestions. A drawback to this method of case resolution is the mediation fee. In some instances it can cost over a thousand dollars per side.
Arbitration: Arbitration is similar to mediation. It is done outside of court and is overseen by someone trained in dispute resolution. It differs from mediation in that it is conducted similar to a trial but in an expedited manor. Each side gets to do opening arguments, present their case and evidence, and do closing arguments. Unlike a trial, which can take days, this usually only takes a few hours. The arbitrator then issues a decision instead of a jury. Arbitration can be binding and non-binding. This is often a good way to resolve a case when both sides cannot agree upon a settlement because the cost is far less then a trial. However, it can be risky because the fate of your case is in the hands of an independent arbitrator, rather than a jury.
Trial: A trial occurs when all other options have failed. A party may seek a trial if they feel the other side is being unreasonable. A trial can be very beneficial to a plaintiff when the defendants either refuse to acknowledge fault or refuse to offer a fair amount of money for a case.
In order to determine which is right for your case, it is important to discuss all the options with your attorney. Each case has unique issues that may come into play when deciding on the method of case resolution, including the jurisdiction your accident falls under. I’ve been practicing personal injury law in Suffolk County, New York for over 17 years. I represent clients in towns such as Smithtown, Hauppauge, Huntington, Stony Brook, Patchogue, Ronkonkoma, Shirley, and Mastic, to name just a few. Through experience, I have become familiar with the towns of Suffolk County and have learned which cases will present well to a jury here and which cases won’t. I’ve also learned what a jury from Suffolk County is likely to award for a certain injury.
After discussing all the strengths and weaknesses of your case along with other factors such as venue and risks, you will be able to make an informed decision as to which approach is best for you.