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Trial or Arbitration?

trial.pngSo you and your attorney tried to negotiate a settlement of your injury claim, but the insurance company refused to make a reasonable offer. After some discussion, you and your attorney have decided to file a lawsuit. What now?

Well, in Washington one of the first decisions is whether you want to continue to a jury trial, or place your case into Mandatory Arbitration (MAR). There are many advantages to arbitration, and one big disadvantage, that you will need to consider in making this decision.

The advantages are clear. Mandatory arbitration is faster, cheaper, easier, and in my opinion, it gives you a better chance of winning than a jury trial. The court rules limit the questions the defense attorney can ask you in discovery, and your doctors and other experts can testify by report or sworn statement instead of appearing in person. This can literally save you thousands of dollars.

However, the big downside of arbitration is that under Washington law your recovery is currently capped at $50,000 per claim. That means even if the arbitrator believes your claim is worth $100,000, the most you can get is $50,000. One exception to this is if your injuries resulted from multiple accidents or one accident involving multiple defendants, you may be able to recover $50,000 for each claim or against each defendant. However, in general MAR caps your recovery at $50,000.

Because of the monetary limit, the decision to move your case from the trial calendar into MAR is a serious one. You should discuss it with your lawyer and make sure all of your questions are answered before you make this decision.

If you have questions about mandatory arbitration, or anything relating to the personal injury claims process, please explore our website, or just give us a call. We'd love to hear from you.

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