If you have sustained injuries and other damages after an accident, you will expect to get a fair settlement from the at-fault insurer. The settlements are meant to compensate you for the damages to your property, pain and suffering, out-of-pocket expenses, hospital bills, and loss of income, among others.
To start off the process, you will need to file a claim with the insurance company and negotiate a fair settlement. If negotiations fail or the claims are in dispute, arbitration might be a viable option. Arbitration is an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) method that involves a neutral third party.
The neutral person’s main job is to hear from both sides and decide the outcome. This method works in both fault and no-fault states. Here is what you need to know about the car accident arbitration process.
Preparing for the Arbitration
The first step in the process is to choose an arbitrator. This can be an experienced lawyer or a retired judge because they are familiar with the law. Your arbitrator is the judge and jury in your case. Therefore, it is crucial to select the right candidate because they significantly impact your claim.
Your state’s laws and the insurance policy will determine how many arbitrators should hear the case and how they can be selected. However, the victim also has an equal say in the selection process. The American Association for Arbitrators (AAA) also has several rules that should be adhered to.
Once you have an arbitrator, you will have a deadline for exchanging documents to support your claim with the insurance company and set a date for the arbitration hearing. Review every bit of information or evidence the insurance company has against your claim with your lawyer, understand it, and prepare evidence to support your claim.
What to Expect During the Arbitration
Though an arbitration hearing is an out-of-court procedure, it takes almost the same shape. All parties involved will be in the same room, and the arbitrator will hear the back and forth discussion of the claim. The hearing mostly lasts a few hours, during which your lawyer will make an opening statement, call witnesses and cross-examine them, present evidence that supports your claim, handle the opposition, and make a closing remark.
If you do not have a lawyer, you should be prepared to handle the process. Try not to rush through your presentation to ensure that you cover every step, and present all the evidence you have.
After the hearing, the arbitrator can take a week or two to review the case and look at the evidence presented. This can take a week or two. Once the arbitrator can determine the outcome of the hearing, both parties will sit down together again.
The arbitrator will issue an award statement and explain why they have come to that conclusion. If you have a binding arbitration clause in your auto insurance policy, the hearing and award result will be final and legally binding. Neither you nor the insurance company can appeal the final decision, even if you are unhappy with it.
However, victims who have a non-binding arbitration clause can choose to reject the process’s results and sue the insurance company. Several insurance companies have a mandatory arbitration clause with their clients to avoid lawsuits.
Get Help from a Car Accident Lawyer
If you have a dispute with your insurer or the at-fault insurance company concerning your compensation, you should consult a car accident lawyer near you to know the options you have. The arbitration process is not right for everyone. If you have a weak case and no legal background, it may not work in your favor. An experienced lawyer will review your case and the other party’s evidence and give you the right advice.