Most personal injury cases settle before their scheduled court date. Typically, these settlements are done through negotiation talks, mediation, and sometimes arbitration. While these are optional dispute resolution practices, there are instances when a personal injury claim may be forced to go to arbitration due to a clause in an agreement.
What is an Arbitration Clause?
These are binding clauses injected in contracts and agreements between the plaintiff and defendant. They typically require the parties to go to arbitration in the event that there is a dispute. When this occurs, both parties must undergo arbitration instead of litigation.
Arbitration is cheaper than traditional litigation, especially for complex cases that take weeks or months in court. Most defendants and plaintiffs prefer resolving their claim out of court anyway.
However, arbitration clauses do not give you the freedom to pick and choose which dispute resolution method you wish to use. Instead, you are required to go through arbitration as part of your clause.
It is not uncommon to find these clauses in work agreements, fitness agreements, and other professionally drawn contracts. However, it is important that plaintiffs understand that not all arbitration clauses are enforceable. Therefore, if a party does not wish to participate in arbitration, they may have options for getting out of it, if they can prove to the court that the agreement is not enforceable.
Injury Claims and Arbitration Clauses
If you have an arbitration clause with the defendant, the circumstances are different for a personal injury claim. First, you both may be required to go through arbitration, but you are also required to agree on a panel or arbitrator to oversee the case.
The critical fact here is that your case is determined by that panel or arbitrator and is not appealable (it is called “binding arbitration”). Therefore, if you do not agree with the panel or arbitrator’s decision, you have no options to seek compensation through the court. This goes for the defense, too. If the arbitration goes in your favor, the defendant will not be able to appeal that decision and they are bound by the decision in arbitration – including the compensation award given in that meeting.
One benefit to arbitration is the formality. It is a more relaxed environment where your attorney and yourself can talk freely. There are less rules than traditional litigation, and the evidence rules are different, as well. Therefore, your attorney can present evidence that otherwise would have been difficult to present in court, and give a better case.
As long as your attorney presents the case well, you may win. However, there are no guarantees, and much depends on the strength of the other party’s case, as well.
Get Assistance from an Attorney
If you have an arbitration clause in your contract with the defendant, but suffered injuries, contact Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. to explore your options. As an experienced attorney, he can help you review your clause and find the best solution for an upcoming arbitration.
Schedule your consultation today by calling him directly on his cell at 215-771-0430 or his office at 800-465-8795 or 215-987-3550. You can also reach him online by completing his online contact form.