What Are My Options, Besides Going to Trial?
Although more than 95 percent of personal injury cases settle out of court, there is no guarantee that this will happen, particularly if the two sides value the case dramatically differently or there is a question of liability.
If it doesn’t look like your case will settle but you don’t want to invest the time and expense associated with litigation, alternative dispute resolution, known in Colorado as Appropriate Dispute Resolution, can increase the chances of reaching an agreement.
ADR can be an effective way to settle a legal dispute outside of court. Because of the delays associated with backlogged court dockets and the ever-increasing expense of litigation, ADR is becoming a more and more popular choice among plaintiffs, defendants, and attorneys.
There are a variety of ADR methods, including early neutral evaluation, Med-ARB, mini-trial, settlement conference, negotiation, and conciliation, but the two most common forms are mediation and arbitration.
A Potentially Simple Alternative
Arbitration in Colorado is a more formal alternative to litigation, yet can be simpler than going to trial. In most cases, decisions made by an arbitrator are binding upon the parties, but arbitration can also be non-binding, in which case if the loser is unhappy with the results, he or she is free to request a new trial in civil court.
Arbitrators, neutral third parties who are tasked with making the final decision, usually have more expertise in the subject matter of the dispute than judges do, and also enjoy greater flexibility when making a decision. The arbitrator’s opinion is not made public, unlike in litigation, where the decision becomes part of the public record.
A More Informal Method
Mediation is an informal way to resolve a legal dispute. It is non-adversarial in nature, and much less formal than arbitration or litigation. With the help of a trained, neutral third party known as a mediator, opposing parties in a personal injury case have the ability to settle their differences in a nonbinding way, free to accept or reject the terms of the agreement. Mediation is beneficial because is it allows the parties to a legal dispute to resolve their differences in a fair, confidential, efficient, and comparatively low-cost way.
During the mediation process, the mediator’s job is not to decide who is right or wrong; rather, the mediator is there to help the parties work out their own solution. For parties who have a great deal of animosity toward each other or have unrealistic expectations regarding the case, mediation may not be the best choice in attempting to settle differences.
ADR Can Be Viable Alternative to Litigation
Although injured plaintiffs have every right to take their lawsuit to trial and let a judge or jury determine the outcome, litigation is not always the best or most efficient way to settle a dispute. Deciding whether to settle a claim out of court, take it trial, or try alternative dispute resolution is not one that should be taken lightly, and a decision about how a case will proceed should only be made after careful consideration and a consultation with an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney.