The prospect of going to a jury or judge trial in a car crash or other personal injury case unnerves some folks. They want to receive fair compensation but getting up in front of a group of strangers and pouring out their story of pain and woe just doesn't seem quite worth it.
So what do you do? The answer can be to look at trial alternatives.
The predominant varieties of such alternatives are mediation and arbitration. Mediation is a procedure where the different sides in a dispute pick a third person to listen to the facts and offer their views about what likely would happen at trial and what they think would be a fair compromise resolution.
Most court systems provide for some sort of mediation and often that is when cases in litigation actually settle. In this instance the difference is that one can propose mediation before a lawsuit is even filed. Admittedly all sides must agree to mediation and to a mutually agreeable mediator but the savings of time and money can be considerable.
The problem with mediation is it doesn't necessarily conclude the claim unless both sides agree to a sum certain as proposed by the mediator.
Arbitration is different to the extent that typically the arbitrator makes a final decision on how much money will change hands. It is like a trial before a judge but is less forbidding in that it doesn't take place in a courthouse or courtroom and other members of the public aren't present. Many injured victims find this much less stressful.
Again, all sides must agree to arbitrate and sometimes there are stipulated terms for the arbitration. These can include maximum and minimum levels of compensation changing hands. Often the insurance companies insist that no matter what the arbitrator awards the plaintiff, the most they will pay are their at-fault driver's insurance policy limits.
So, if you don't think you can handle court consider alternative dispute resolution.