Alternative Dispute Resolutions
By: Michael Rose
Personal injury lawsuits are extremely complex matters and can take anywhere from months to years to settle. Typically, the claimant’s losses are in dispute, necessitating extensive discovery, pre-trial motions, depositions, and additional medical appointments. In many cases, it may be in the claimant’s best interest to seek an alternative way to settle a disagreement. Alternative dispute resolutions (ADR) are cheaper, more relaxed, and speedier paths to settlement. In fact, only one in twenty personal injury cases is resolved in a court of law and are instead settled by way of mediation or arbitration, among other methods.
If a claimant chooses to pursue arbitration, the entire suit can take as little as six months to reach a conclusion. During arbitration, a neutral party called an arbitrator hears arguments and evidence from opposing parties. There are two types of arbitrations: binding and non-binding. At the end of an arbitration, the arbitrator decides the outcome. If the arbitration is binding, both parties must accept this decision as final. If the arbitration is non-binding, either party may request a trial if they are unsatisfied with the arbitrator’s decision.
A mediation is similar to an arbitration in that a neutral party—in this case, the mediator—hears both sides of the argument. However, the mediator does not decide the case. Instead, the mediator facilitates communication between the parties so that a settlement may be negotiated outside of the courtroom. Mediation is helpful when two parties are hoping to come to a more diplomatic resolution that does not damage any existing relationships. This method is often used when there is a dispute between neighbors, relatives, friends, or business partners, but can be helpful in other cases as well.
It is important that a claimant’s attorney recognizes the value of ADR. New York City courts are backed up, meaning that cases take longer to reach trial. In some instances, a trial is the most effective way for a claimant to receive a fair verdict. Sometimes, however, the client’s losses may be simple to calculate, or the defendant’s neglect may be indisputable. In these situations, it may be in the claimant’s best interest to reach a settlement through ADR as soon as possible.
When ADR is the most effective and fair path to resolution, the attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP, work with opposing counsel to move towards mediation and arbitration. Significant results can be obtained through mediated settlements, including a $905,000 award for a client involved in a motor vehicle accident and a $3,475,000 award for an injured worker. If you or a loved one has been injured, call the attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP, at (212) 779-0057 for a free consultation.