Contrary to the general perception, most Florida car accident lawsuits are resolved before trial. There are many avenues of relief for Florida injury victims, but claimants should contact an experienced and skilled attorney to ensure that they recover the compensation they deserve. Depending on the accident’s facts and circumstances, many settlement agreements occur through alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The two most common forms of ADR are mediation and arbitration. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they have drastically different implications that can impact an injury victim’s right to recovery.
Meditation is a form of ADR that allows parties to settle claims without going to trial. During this process, a trained “mediator” guides the victim and the other party to reach a settlement. The meditator cannot require either party to do or agree to anything; however, they facilitate discussions and make recommendations. This form of ADR only occurs if both parties agree to it. Many insurance companies refuse to go through this process. However, in some cases, a court may require the parties to go to mediation before trial.
During mediation, the individual making a claim will explain their view of the case and the extent of their damages. The mediator will then allow the opposing party to present their view of the case and settlement amount. In most cases, the parties will know within a few hours whether they will reach an agreement; however, agreements can take several sessions in some cases. If the parties agree, the settlement document will be given to a judge for review.
Arbitration is a form of ADR where an agreed-upon arbitrator hears a case and decides on the outcome, similar to how a judge operates. Unlike mediation, an arbitrator has the authority to rule on the case. Parties often choose an arbitrator because it saves time and money. However, their decisions are final parties cannot appeal the ruling.
An attorney is a critical resource during these proceedings because settlement agreements are often final. For example, recently, a district court issued an opinion in a Florida car accident lawsuit addressing a settlement agreement’s validity. In that case, the defendant and plaintiff each offered a settlement agreement to the other party on the same day. The defendant accepted the plaintiff’s offer, but then the plaintiff offered the defendant’s agreement. The defendant’s offer was more favorable, and the plaintiff argued that it remained open because the defendant did not withdraw their offer. However, the court ruled because of the technical timing of the offers, the defendant’s offer was not valid at the time of the plaintiff’s acceptance. The court ultimately remanded the case for further proceedings.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Car Accident?
If you have suffered injuries in a Florida car accident, contact the Law Offices of Robert Dixon for assistance. The attorneys at our law firm have extensive experience handling all stages of personal injury claims. We have successfully represented clients through settlement proceedings, trials, and appeals. Our office handles Florida motor vehicle claims, premises liability, defective products, and other civil injury cases. Contact our office at 800-488-4878, to discuss your right to compensation.