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How Attorneys Work to Resolve Auto Accident Cases

Mediation, Arbitration and Litigation in Auto Accident Cases

While traffic-related fatalities continue to be on the decline in Pennsylvania, injuries continue to be a serious concern. In fact, in this state, an average of more than 225 injuries resulting from automobile accidents is sustained each day. These events lead to insurance claims, which often require the involvement of an Allentown car accident lawyer in order to ensure that the victim is compensated suitably in auto accident cases.

Preparing, Filing and Pursuing a Claim

While you should notify your insurance company of an automobile accident as soon as possible, that is only the start of the claims process. You must calculate the loss, prepare the paperwork and file the claim. Pursuing the claim involves awaiting an offer and either accepting that offer or declining it and moving on to negotiations. It generally behooves you to involve an Allentown car accident lawyer prior to the calculation of loss. Accident victims often underestimate the loss incurred, and insurance companies will often navigate the situation differently when an attorney is involved.

Mediation

If the offer was rejected, your lawyer will likely have phone conversations with an attorney from the insurance company to negotiate damages. The framework of that negotiation will be the offer and counteroffer. Unless they are really far apart, both parties will seek a compromise between those two points. If it’s been several days and the conversations are not moving the parties toward an agreement, then the next step may be mediation. This usually involves an informal meeting through which an independent mediator works to help the two parties reach an agreement. The mediator makes no decision during this process.

auto accident cases

Arbitration

If after negotiation and, possibly, mediation, an agreement cannot be met, arbitration may be an option. Arbitration is a litigation alternative that can save all the parties involved considerable time and money. A nonbinding arbitration is similar to mediation except that the arbitrator makes the decision. However, since it is nonbinding, neither party is bound to that judgment and may move on to the next step. A binding arbitration is legally binding. An arbitrator hears the case, decides and then makes a ruling, and all parties involved have to abide by that judgment legally. Whether arbitration makes sense for any particular accident case involves many factors. Some of the elements the parties have to agree on include:

  • The arbitrator
  • The technical rules
  • Who is paying for the arbitration
  • Whether the judgment will be binding or nonbinding

Litigation

Accidents can move straight from failed negotiations to litigation. It just depends on how your legal representation assesses the offer and behavior of the insurance company in question. If your argument will involve significant evidence and expertise, a trial before a jury allows the most latitude for such testimony. The arbitration process can prove cumbersome in this regard. A judge may work to help parties reach an agreement prior to jury selection, in effect serving as an arbitrator. Most accident lawsuits that proceed to litigation do not reach the jury selection process, but those that do generally run the course.

Returning to Mediation

Not all auto accident cases that go to court continue all the way to a decision from a judge or jury. Some certainly do, but when a case is unfolding successfully for a client, an insurance company will often recognize its weakening position and act. By returning to the mediation table, it seeks to mitigate expected liabilities, and the benefit for the client is that the process concludes sooner, and he or she receives the deserved compensatory damages now rather than later.

Get the Representation You Need Today

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania and suffered injuries or property damage, reach out to an Allentown car accident lawyer today. Metzger & Kleiner focuses on auto accident cases and personal injury law in PA and has represented many clients. You can contact us online or call us at our office in the Lehigh Valley at (610) 435-7400.

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