If you have an insurance claim against your company, it is definitely in your best interest to come to some kind of settlement if it is possible. Sometimes, however, that simply cannot be done and a lawsuit is the only possible option.
That does not mean that negotiation is over, however. Courts in Florida require all civil lawsuits to go through mediation before proceeding to trial. In mediation it may make sense for the case to be referred to arbitration. These alternative dispute resolution procedures are an important part of the process, especially for insurance claims.
The first step for any civil suit is always mediation. This is a process by which a court certified mediator assembles both parties and hears their sides of the story. They propose solutions and ways that the dispute can be resolved easily.
Mediation can take the form of a small, informal hearing or even look like a trial with evidence presented by both sides. It is entirely up to the mediator as to how it proceeds. The setting is informal and allows back-and-forth between the two parties.
Many cases settle in mediation, so the process is very much worth it. If they do not find a way to agree, one possible outcome is to have the parties agree to arbitration.
There are two kinds of arbitration – binding and non-binding. In a binding arbitration, both parties have signed that they will agree to the decision of the arbitrator, whatever it is. Non-binding, of course, does not have that agreement.
Arbitration is conducted by an expert in the field, or sometimes a panel of experts. It is also more relaxed than a full trial, but is more likely to have some structure and presentation of evidence.
Still preparing for trial
While the savings in time and money are very important, it is still critical to have a vigorous defense coming into mediation. You have to be prepared as if going to trial, which is the outcome if mediation and arbitration fail to produce an agreement.
That may sound like setting up for failure, but it is an important part of the process. The outcome is much more likely to be in your favor if it is clear that you are prepared to see the case through to the very end.
In all cases, it is important to have an attorney skilled in not only insurance claims but also the process of alternative dispute resolution preparing your case. Mediation and arbitration are indeed a much easier way to settle, but the outcome is always going to be more favorable the more prepared you are.