When an injury happens, the physical, financial, and emotional repercussions can be substantial. Unfortunately, the offending party is not always willing to step up to the plate and cover damages that have taken place because of their negligence or recklessness. That’s when a personal injury lawyer becomes necessary. You may think that getting a lawyer requires going to court. That isn’t always the case—95 percent of legal cases are settled out-of-court. A lawyer may have several methods he can use to help you resolve your claim. While not every lawyer will offer all of these methods, you can definitely ask about them.
This is the most basic method of settling a claim. In negotiation, the parties communicate with each other to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both. You can do this informally, in direct communication with the other party, or you can enlist the help of a lawyer. Either way, you are participating in the discussion and in decisions that will affect you. Negotiation is often used to resolve a dispute before a lawsuit takes place. However, it can also be initiated at any time during a lawsuit and even after an appeal has been filed.
Mediation is used when there is tension between the two parties and they don’t want to speak directly with each other. Both parties need to agree to it. This method is often pursued when negotiation has been unsuccessful. In mediation, both sides present their position and interests to the mediator, who is a neutral third party—usually a personal injury lawyer. Sometimes, the mediator will meet separately with each side to reduce emotional stress and enable more forthright disclosure of facts pertaining to the case.
Unlike negotiation and mediation, only one party wins in arbitration. The arbitrator hears both sides, sometimes in a formal hearing where each party submits their evidence and testimony. The arbitration process is much like a trial, but it’s done outside of the court. However, unlike a trial, the arbitrator’s decision is often final and appeal rights may be limited or terminated altogether.
This is the most well-known process, where a lawsuit is filed in court and proceeds to trial if the parties cannot agree to a settlement. In a court trial, the defendant (i.e. the party being sued) is required to participate. Unlike negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, a court case is public and all records are available to the public. Each party presents their case and a judgment is made according to the laws pertaining to the case. In civil cases, such as personal injury lawsuits, both parties may have the right to appeal the decision if they have a right of appeal and the legal basis to appeal. Otherwise, the judgment is legal and binding.
When you present your case to your personal injury lawyer, he will have suggestions on the best route to take. Ultimately, your goal is to get paid for your injuries!