What is Arbitration for a Car Accident Injury Case?

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California Car Accident Injury Arbitration: Everything You Need to Know

California Car Accident Injury Arbitration: Everything You Need to Know

Jul 24, 2023

Car accident cases fall under what’s known as personal injury civil law. When you’re injured due to another driver’s negligence or carelessness, there are a number of ways to resolve your case and secure the financial compensation you need for things like hospital bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional trauma.

California car accident claims are typically handled through one of the following methods:

  • An out-of-court settlement or pre-litigation resolution
  • A formal lawsuit
  • Litigation which requires trial
  • An alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration

Let’s take a look at the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) known as arbitration which is commonly used in in car accident claims.

What is Arbitration for California Car Accidents?

Arbitration is a process of alternative dispute resolution or ADR that helps resolve cases outside of the court system. The process is similar to mediation except that an arbitrator – an individual who has been agreed upon by both parties – decides the outcome of the dispute. The arbitrator issues a judgement on the dispute based on evidence and arguments provided by each party.

In California, the law provides for two types of arbitration:

  • Binding
  • Non-binding

Binding arbitration is when both parties agree that they will be bound by the decision of the arbitrator. In car accident cases, this is the most commonly used method of arbitration.

Alternatively, non-binding arbitration allows either party the option to choose to go to court if they disagree with the arbitrator’s ruling.

How is Arbitration Different from Mediation?

Arbitration is different from mediation in that a mediator doesn’t decide the outcome of a case. The role of a mediator is assist both parties in effectively communicating and reaching a mutually-agreeable resolution. But unlike an arbitrator, the mediator does not have the power to decide for either party. Instead, a mediator listens to both sides and decides whether the case should be resolved in a way that is binding or not.

Arbitration can be an easier and more affordable way to settle a car accident or personal injury dispute. However, by entering into formal arbitration, you may be giving up the right to have a judge or jury decide your case. Given the nature of binding and non-binding arbitration, it’s recommended that you always consult an experienced California attorney before agreeing to arbitrate your car accident injury case.

What are the Benefits of Car Accident Arbitration?

Car accident arbitration can be a good option for certain injured victims/plaintiffs. Some of the scenarios that may warrant car accident arbitration include:

  • If your car insurance provider provides a “lowball” or unfair offer for a cash settlement.
  • If your car insurance provider refuses to negotiate a fair settlement.
  • If your car insurance policy includes a clause that specifically mandates arbitration when a dispute can’t be resolved (if this applies to you, an arbitrator may be able to resolve the dispute without having incur expenses or time related to a trial).
  • If your car accident case involves multiple vehicles or drivers who are placed at fault – complex cases involving numerous parties and/or severe injuries may be suitable for arbitration.
  • When damages per plaintiff/victim are $50,000 or less.

When is Car Accident Arbitration Not Advisable?

When all involved car accident parties prefer to maintain control over their case – specifically in all aspects of the litigation proceedings – binding arbitration may not be appropriate. Non-binding arbitration may be something to consider on a case-by-case basis if/when parties prefer to maintain control or autonomy over their cases – but consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is always recommended.

It’s important to note that when you proceed with binding arbitration, neither you nor the opposing party/defendant have the option to appeal the arbitrator’s decision. Regardless of whether or not the law, facts of the case, or evidence supports a varying decision, you are held to the arbitrator’s decision after officially entering into binding arbitration.

The California Car Accident Arbitration Process Explained

Some important facts related to the California car accident arbitration process include:

  • Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process that is conducted outside the court system (litigation).
  • When entering into arbitration, both parties involved in a dispute – the plaintiff and defendant – either agree or are mandated to have their case heard by an arbitrator (considered to be an impartial third party).
  • In a car accident case, an arbitration hearing notice will be issued within 120 days of an arbitrator being appointed.
  • During arbitration, you will present the facts of your case to the arbitrator – similar to the way in which an argument is presented in court (this can include an opening statement, calling witnesses/experts, presenting supporting evidence or documentation, analyzing and critiquing statements from opposing witnesses, issuing closing remarks, etc.)
  • Car accident arbitration typically takes a few hours to complete.
  • An arbitrator must consider evidence from both sides before making a decision.
  • Arbitration judgements in California can be binding or non-binding.

An arbitrator’s award is typically final when issued in a car accident case. An exception to this rule is when one party files a request for trial (also known as a trial de novo) within 60 days after the car accident arbitration award is filed with the court. In such instances, an arbitration judgement may be altered. However, it’s important to note that if you make a request for trial and ultimately are not issued a more favorable ruling than what the arbitrator initially awarded, you could incur extra fees and costs associated with the trial.

What to Do Before Entering Into Car Accident Arbitration

If you’re considering arbitration for your California car accident case, it’s recommended that you take the following proactive steps:

  • Prepare any evidence, arguments, documentation (medical records, etc.) in advance
  • Consult with an experienced car accident lawyer
  • Research your auto insurance company’s history of fighting/appealing arbitration
  • Research and understand your auto insurance policy and any clauses related to arbitration

Having a proven car accident injury attorney fighting on your side can help ensure that your arbitration claim is successful and your rights are protected.

How to File a California Car Accident Injury Claim

Suffering a car accident injury can be a traumatic experience, but you may be entitled to significant financial compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.

Contact us today by calling 866-GO-SEE-SAM to schedule your free, confidential, and no obligation personal injury lawyer consultation. We’ll fight to recover all applicable damages for your car crash case, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages/reduced future earning capacity
  • Psychological trauma
  • Hospital expenses
  • Medical bills/treatment costs
  • Prescription drug costs
  • Punitive damages

Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is here to help you navigate the legal process after a car accident injury. We’re experts at providing car accident victims the support and guidance needed to obtain the justice and maximum financial compensation they deserve.

Schedule an appointment online for a free consultation today, or call us directly to speak to our top-rated, expert car accident attorneys.

And with DLG, you never have to worry about paying a penny upfront. Our No Win/No Fee Guarantee means there’s no risk to you – we only accept payment after successfully securing a maximized cash settlement for your car accident injury.

Contact us today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM to learn more about how you can get justice for a car accident that was not your fault.

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