Formal litigation is not the only form of legal dispute resolution in the American legal system. In fact, it is typically the last and least wanted of the three available methods. Mediation and arbitration are easily more desirable for both economic and privacy reasons. The purpose of the legal system is to resolve disputes, and disputes that can be solved in private are always the best route for the opposing parties. Negligent actors are more willing to admit a problem in private when no terms of an agreement will be disclosed, which is what happens following mediation when an agreement is reached. Arbitration is more restrictive, but certain evidence may be concealed as well and the law is applied directly to the evidence with no further public presentation. Injury trial lawyers know arbitration does not always bode well for an injured claimant. Knowing the difference between the two methods of ADR is important for all claimants.  

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Mediation is usually the preferred option in most civil disputes when sensitive information could be revealed. Types of disputes can range from small to moderate issues that can be resolved informally and quickly, to very serious cases where one party knows they will be required to provide some type of damage payment and wants to keep the specific terms of the agreement private. A binding mediation agreement does not require recognition by the court, as it can result in an enforceable agreement between two private parties. Mediation is also used in personal injury cases and requested by plaintiffs as well as defendants. Personal injury trial lawyers often use mediation as a means of bargaining with a defendant by showing them the basic evidence that could result in punitive damages from a sympathetic jury if a case actually goes to trial. It gives the defendant a chance to settle quicker with a nondisclosure clause within the final agreement. 


Arbitration works best when one party wants the law applied immediately as the situation stands without any further hearings. All parties to a legal dispute present documented evidence along with narrative arguments in a written format in most cases. An arbitrator is chosen among a pool and approved by both parties to analyze the facts of the case as it stands at that time. Arbitration can also be used in personal injury cases in certain evidence situations by the plaintiff, but it is usually a demanded form of alternate dispute resolution in some contracts. Insurance companies will attempt including this language in auto policies as well, and especially in North Carolina where the standard for contributory negligence is so low and absolute. Any plaintiff who is responsible for their own injury to any degree can be legally denied any financial compensation for their claimed injuries in North Carolina. [Should I Consider Arbitration to Resolve My Personal Injury Case?]

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Accident victims who are attempting to negotiate their own injury claim will have little to no chance against a Personal Injury or Auto Insurance company if their injury is adjudicated through arbitration. Insurance companies include language in insurance policies that demand cases be settled in arbitration for a reason, and that reason is that they know the law gives them an advantage in arbitration. General damage claims may be limited when the amount of evidence is controlled in explaining how injuries will impact life going forward for an injured claimant. Arbitration can eliminate any chance of punitive damages that must be awarded by a jury. This is not the case in a formal civil trial, and our injury trial lawyers have the expertise to avoid arbitration and take a case directly to court in an open hearing, if this route is likely to benefit our client. The insurance companies will have a team of lawyers, and injured claimants need one too. Call us for a free case evaluation and let us be part of your team. 

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