So, you just got your auto insurance company’s final car accident settlement offer, and it is for an amount much less than what you thought. You believe your claim is worth a lot more, and are frustrated with the auto accident company’s claims process.
Most auto insurance policies will allow you to resolve your auto claim dispute through a process out of court called arbitration. Arbitration is less formal than a courtroom case, but it is a legal proceeding where you and the auto insurance company present the details about your claim to a nonpartisan referee, which is referred to as an arbitrator. For the most part, arbitration awards are legally binding, and you cannot appeal them.
At Lawsuit Info Center, we are here to help you. Use the car insurance arbitration section of our website to learn about how the arbitration process works for your insurance company. Just select your auto insurance company on the right to read about the details of that company’s arbitration process.
Timeline for Arbitration
One of the benefits of going to arbitration is you can get it scheduled and completed much faster than a court trial. Each auto insurance claim involves many different circumstances, but below is a common timeline for auto accident arbitration:
- Days one to 15: Filing and initiation of arbitration
- Days 16 to 45: Selection of the arbitrator
- Days 46-75: Exchanging of information and arbitration preparation
- Day 76: Hearing for arbitration
- Days 77-85: Arbitration award or results
How to Request Arbitration
Car accident victims can request arbitration when settlement negotiations have reached an impasse. You can tell the claims adjuster for the insurance company that you want to go to arbitration. While you cannot force the auto insurance company to go to arbitration, you can tell them if they will not go to arbitration, you will file a personal injury lawsuit. Of course, threatening a lawsuit is only a good move if you have a strong claim. So, you should highlight the most important facts in your favor when you write the request for arbitration.
How to Prepare for Arbitration
The first job when you go to arbitration is to choose an arbitrator to hear the claim. Many arbitrators are retired judges or experienced attorneys. Once the arbitrator has been chosen, note that he or she is both the judge and jury. So, it is important to do research on each arbitration candidate and choose one with a strong reputation for integrity and fairness. The laws of your state many determine how many arbitrators there can be and how they are chosen, but you are entitled to an equal vote in the final selection.
After you have chosen an arbitrator, a deadline will be set to exchange documents with the auto insurance company, and a date will be set for the hearing itself. You should take the time to carefully review information provided by the auto insurance company so that you understand the argument being made against your claim. Be prepared to show all evidence that makes their claim weaker.
What You Can Expect During Arbitration
Auto insurance arbitration hearings usually occur with all parties to the dispute in the same room. That is so the arbitrator can listen to a discussion back and forth of the claim. Most arbitration hearings only last a few hours. This should be adequate time for you to explain what your damages are, and why the auto insurance company owes what you are alleging.
The day of the hearing, you should be ready to perform the following:
- Provide an opening statement
- Call witnesses and cross examine them
- Provide evidence that supports your auto accident claim
- Be ready to handle tough questioning
- Present closing remarks
Remember, arbitration is similar to a court trial but with fewer procedural rules. It is normal to feel stress and anxiety during arbitration. But you can boost your confidence by doing ample preparation and to practice relaxation techniques before your hearing. This is the day you have been waiting for, so make a strong argument and do not rush it.
Within a few weeks of your hearing, the arbitrator will decide and may make an award to you. The statement usually has few details about how he made the decision. This award is legally binding, and you cannot usually appeal.
Should You Use an Attorney?
It hard to say if arbitration is the best choice for your case. An experience auto insurance arbitration attorney may help you to understand more about insurance and arbitration. If you are thinking about using arbitration, you can use the legal resources on Lawsuit Info Center to help you to find a local attorney.