You may be expecting your car accident case to be decided by a jury who hears the case in a courtroom. However, you may be surprised to learn that not every car accident case is decided in a courtroom.
Some cases could go through arbitration, whether it is through an agreement or court order. You still need a lawyer to represent you, regardless of how your case is being decided. Contact us at JustCallMoe to discuss your Orlando car accident case.
Reasons for Car Accident Claim Arbitration in Florida
There are two reasons why your car accident case may go to arbitration:
- The trial judge has seen fit to order arbitration in your case, as they may sometimes do during a civil case.
- You have jointly agreed to go to arbitration with the car insurance company, whether it is by stipulation or through a contract.
Companies can dictate that your case goes to arbitration by including a mandatory clause in your contract. These clauses are often upheld when people try to challenge them in court.
The insurance company has its own reasons for wanting your case to go to arbitration. Most of all, it is less expensive for them because they do not have to pay their defense attorneys as much.
Note that you do not have a contractual relationship with the other driver’s car insurance company. They cannot require you to go to arbitration. You could only have mandated arbitration with your own insurance company.
In Florida, you are often dealing with your own car insurance company through your personal injury protection. In addition to seeking damages when your insurance company will not pay enough for your claim, you may have a direct lawsuit against them if you believe they have acted in bad faith.
The Pros and Cons of Car Accident Claim Arbitration
Car accident arbitration has its own advantages and disadvantages.
On the pro side, arbitration could provide you with a quick resolution to your case. If you had to go all the way through trial, your case could take many months. You could get an award much more quickly than if you went to trial. Otherwise, you may have to wait a long time for your money, which is even more difficult when you are experiencing financial strain.
Arbitration can also be a less formal and more flexible process. Some of the strict evidence rules that would apply in court may not apply in an arbitration forum. The process could be less stressful than having to go into court and testify in front of a judge.
There are also downsides to arbitration. For starters, arbitration is often binding. You do not get to appeal if you believe that the arbitrator reached the wrong result.
How Car Accident Claim Arbitrators Are Selected
The choice of an arbitrator is crucial in your car accident case. The insurance company has its own list of arbitrators that it likes to suggest and use. You need to view arbitrators on this list with a grain of suspicion. The insurance company would not recommend arbitrators who have a history of ruling against them. It would cost them too much money.
You would also have your own choice of an arbitrator. In most cases, the arbitrator would be a former judge or an attorney. You would need to agree with the insurance company on the choice of an arbitrator.
How the Arbitration Process Works
The car accident arbitration process, while it usually results in a binding ruling, is less formal than the process that you go through in court.
Still, you should expect the following as part of your car accident arbitration:
- You would exchange information with the insurance company, which is similar to the discovery process in a civil trial.
- You would prepare for the hearing with the evidence that your attorney has gathered.
- There is an arbitration hearing, at which your attorney would present witnesses and evidence. You would likely be called to testify at this hearing.
- The arbitrator will issue their decision after they have considered the evidence, which usually happens within two weeks.
An arbitration claim may be complete in roughly two to three months. You do not have to worry about the arbitrator having the same backlog as the court system. The process is intended to move more quickly. When the arbitration process is complete, everything about your claim is final.
How an Attorney Helps You in Car Accident Arbitration
Even though arbitration is a less formal process, it still requires extensive preparation as if you were going to trial in court. You only get one chance to present your strongest possible case.
If you do not have a viable case at arbitration, it will be the end of the road for you legally. Thus, you need to hire an attorney, no matter how your case is going to be resolved.
Here is what your attorney may do for you if your car accident case goes to arbitration:
- Communicate with the insurance company throughout the process
- Help determine what you may need from the insurance company when you exchange information before the hearing
- Determine which witnesses you may need to prove your case at the hearing
- Work with you to prepare you to testify at the hearing
- Present your case to the arbitrator and draft any briefing that they may request
- Continue to negotiate with the insurance company during the process, in the hopes of reaching a settlement agreement before your case reaches a hearing
As you can see, your attorney will play a crucial role in your case. They give you a better chance of winning at arbitration.
Contact an Orlando Car Accident Attorney Today
You may wonder why your car accident claim is going to arbitration, or want to learn more about the car accident arbitration process. For answers to all your questions, and to get the help of an aggressive and experienced personal injury lawyer, just call Moe DeWitt. You can schedule a free consultation, by messaging us through our website, or by calling us at JustCallMoe today at (866) CALL-MOE.