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What Is Alternate Dispute Resolution

There are a few different ways to proceed if you are injured due to another person’s negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing. If you submit a claim for damages, is it better to arbitrate or mediate your claim, or just move forward to a trial?


In the majority of cases, it’s almost always preferable to try to settle your claim before going to the courtroom. Various methods of resolving claims before trial exist. These are referred to as Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR).



Arbitration is a common form of ADR. The parties on both sides make an informal presentation of their cases to an independent individual arbitrator, or perhaps, a panel of arbitrators. A decision is typically made by the arbitrator(s). It is usually documented in writing. If the situation is handled by non-binding arbitration, then it is for advice only, and one or both of the parties can reject the decision and move forward to trial. If both parties happen to agree on the decision, then the case is settled.


Even if both sides don’t agree with the decision, it helps them see specific aspects of the case, which can lead to a later settlement. If the parties engage in binding arbitration, they are bound by the decision, and there is no option to appeal.


Binding arbitration may not be ideal for some, as the decision is made by only one person (or possibly a panel of three persons). If the case goes to trial, you benefit from twelve members of a jury to make the decision. Twelve people can often come up with a fair decision. If one person makes the decision, there is a more substantial risk of getting an odd or unfavorable result to which there is no appeal.


Mediation is the most common form of ADR. In this process, both sides agree on a mediator. The mediator is usually a retired judge or attorney who has experience in handling personal injury cases. Both parties meet at the same place for mediation, but are put in different rooms.

In the ensuing process, the chosen mediator conveys offers back and forth between the contentious parties. The mediator also discusses the strengths and weaknesses of their respective positions with each side and tries to help them agree on a settlement — an amount of damages agreeable to both parties.

Advantages of Mediation and Non-Binding Arbitration
Both mediation and non-binding arbitration have significant advantages over going to trial, including: 

  • The parties are in charge and will decide what they want to settle for
  • It saves the often substantial cost of going through a trial
  • It avoids the emotional stress, anxiety, and anger of a trial
  • The case is settled much quicker than if it goes to trial 

If the other party isn’t reasonable in discussing a settlement through mediation or rejects a non-binding arbitration decision that favors you, you may do better by presenting your case to a jury of your peers. To find out the most favorable option for you, reach out to an experienced attorney in your local area and schedule a case review.