What is arbitration?
If you are a party in a lawsuit involving personal injury, your first quest for justice will not be in the courtroom. In New Jersey, arbitration is attempted as a means to end a case. Arbitration is mandatory for personal injury cases, with the exception of professional malpractice and products liability actions. What does this mean?
What is Arbitration?
The dictionary defines arbitration as “the submission of a dispute to an unbiased third person designated by the parties to the controversy, who agree in advance to comply with the award—a decision to be issued after a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard.” New Jersey’s mandatory arbitration differs from the standard definition. If either party disagrees with the arbitration award, they can file a form requesting that the case be brought to trial. You can read more about New Jersey’s mandatory arbitration program here.
When Does Arbitration Occur?
Arbitration is listed after the discovery phase of a case. Discovery is a broad term encompassing an exchange of information. This can include interrogatories, written questions concerning a lawsuit. It also pertains to depositions, the oral examination under the oath. Depositions give attorneys the opportunity to interview witnesses and parties concerning the facts of the case. There can be additional aspects associated with the discovery process.
Who Serves as the Arbitrator?
New Jersey maintains a roster of available arbitrators. These can include retired judges from any of the state courts. Attorneys are also available to serve as arbitrators. They must possess New Jersey attorney licenses, as well as at least seven years of personal injury experience.
Law firms may also stipulate their choice of arbitrators, but their selection is subject to approval of the Assignment Judge where the case is venued.
Who Attends the Arbitration?
Arbitration is an integral part of the lawsuit process. Clients are never alone when it comes to representation. Attorneys for both the plaintiff and defendant will attend the arbitration hearing. The arbitrator leads the process and determines if testimony is appropriate. Although the proceeding may be held in someone’s office, it is still a legal proceeding. All parties are placed under oath before providing testimony.
Is Arbitration a Good Thing?
Resolving personal injury cases is important. Arbitration offers at least two beneficial advantages. It may allow the case to settle earlier than a projected trial date. At the same time, it offers the parties a chance to see how a skilled authority puts a number on the case.