The adverse insurance company won’t make you a decent settlement offer so you are forced to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. At the time of filing the lawsuit, your attorney must tell the Court whether the case is subject to compulsory arbitration or whether it may proceed directly to a jury trial. Your attorney (hopefully with your input) must decide the value of your case in order to properly inform the Court of which path your case will take.
Each County in Arizona has an established arbitration threshold. In Maricopa County, that threshold is $50,000.00. Thus, if your case has a value of approximately $25,000.00, then your case must be certified as an arbitration case. If it is worth in excess of the $50,000.00 limit, it is certified as a jury trial.
Arbitration is much quicker and more financially efficient than a jury trial. Medical bills and records, deposition transcripts and other documents may be used in lieu of bringing in a long list of witnesses to testify. You can get to an arbitration hearing within 6 months after filing your lawsuit whereas a jury trial may be 2 to 3 years or more down the road from the filing.
With an arbitration hearing, an arbitrator is randomly selected by the Court from a list of attorneys who have practiced law in that county for at least five years. The arbitration hearing is usually held in a conference room at the arbitrator’s law office. The average motor vehicle personal injury arbitration hearing usually takes a half day or less as compared to the usual two-to-five-day jury trial. An arbitration hearing can save thousands of dollars for the parties by avoiding the expert witness fees of doctors, accident reconstructionist and other experts.
Within 10 business days after the hearing, the arbitrator will render his or her decision. If you don’t like the award, you have an appeal option to a jury trial at this point, but it doesn’t come without risk. Unless the jury verdict exceeds the arbitration award by 23%, you will be responsible for the opposing party attorney’s fees from the point of the appeal forward, plus the opposition’s expert witness fees.
In summary, compulsory arbitration is a quick and more economical process than a jury trial, but the jury trial option is still there if the arbitrator’s decision is not to your liking.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, motorcycle accident or pedestrian accident, reach out to the experienced lawyers at Select Law. With our extensive experience in the legal field, we know what it takes to win your case. Call us at (206) 237-8383 to arrange your FREE CONSULTATION with an experienced attorney (in person, phone, zoom or your residence/hospital)
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