What Happens When Your Case is Called to Arbitration
You still have flashbacks about the accident that caused your injuries. Truth be told, you are so angry that you just can’t wait until your day in court. Meanwhile, your attorney sends you a letter with an arbitration date. What’s that mean exactly?
To begin with, you should know that arbitration is considered a means of alternate dispute resolution. It is intended to save the court and litigants time and money. In New Jersey, several courts use arbitration to resolve disputes.
On the one hand, arbitration may be used to deal with employment disputes. Additionally, some business disputes are also handled in arbitration. Both family law and personal injury claimants find that arbitration is an effective way of ending their case. For now, let’s concentrate on the process for personal injury lawsuits.
Personal Injury Arbitration
Your first question may be why your case has been referred to arbitration. Actually, the New Jersey Statutes contain specific laws regarding personal injury lawsuits and arbitration. Here are some highlights:
- All personal injury lawsuits that the court determines are valued at $20,000 or less, must submit to arbitration. Costs are not considered part of the controversy in question
- Even if the amount of damages exceeds $20,000, the court may refer the matter to arbitration. Notwithstanding, all of the parties to the action must consent in writing to arbitration. Moreover, the court must determine that the controversy does not involve novel legal or unduly complex factual issues.
- If an arbitration decision was rendered before filing the lawsuit, there is no requirement to submit to a subsequent arbitration hearing.
Now that you understand why your case may be scheduled for arbitration, it’s important to know what goes on and who else will be at the hearing.
First, you should know that arbitration hearings are scheduled after the discovery phase of the case is concluded. This means that both sides have submitted written answers to questions, also known as interrogatories. Ideally, both the plaintiff and defendant have also testified in a deposition. All evidence is turned over to the arbitrator in advance of the hearing date.
Who is the arbitrator? More than likely, it is another attorney who is not involved in your case. Sometimes, even retired judges serve as arbitrators. The parties will be permitted to testify at arbitration, but for only a short time.
Going forward, it is up to the arbitrator to place a value on the case. He or she is not restricted to the $20,000 number that may have put the matter in arbitration. For many, this will mean the end of the lawsuit. There will be no need to submit to the rigors of the courtroom trial.
Notwithstanding, although the arbitration may have been mandatory, the result is not binding on the parties. Either your attorney or defense counsel may reject the arbitrator’s decision. This must be done within thirty days and requires payment of a $200 fee. A form entitled Notice of Rejection and Demand for Trial De Novo must be filed with the court.
Were you injured due to someone else’s negligence? The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has nearly three decades of experience representing injury victims. Contact our office to see how we can assist you.