If you have been hurt in a car collision and the insurance company for the at-fault driver is not negotiating in good faith, you may be able to make a claim in civil arbitration. Civil arbitration is mandatory for monetary claims valued less than $100,000 and is an option in most of Washington State, including the Tri-Cities (Benton and Franklin counties). Only a few years ago the limit was $50,000. Compared to trial by jury, arbitration can have several benefits: the cost is lower (around $1,500 instead of $15,000 or more); the hearing is sooner (a few months instead of a year or longer); and the hearing is shorter (a few hours instead of days).
Arbitration may be the right answer for your claim if your damages are less than $100,000, you aren’t permanently disabled, and you don’t have a claim against an insurance company who automatically appeals arbitration awards. However, just like a judge or jury, you don’t really have a choice who is making the decision on your claim. Although most arbitrators are fairly impartial, we have seen arbitrators who have a difficult time assessing the value of permanent injury and end up awarding little to nothing for general damages, also called pain and suffering.
You can also face the risk that the insurance company will appeal an arbitration award as part of their general strategy to delay, deny, and defend. They do this about 30% of the time because they know it costs you more time, energy, and money. Even with that risk, chances are pretty good that your claim will be resolved through civil arbitration.
If you have any questions about your case or civil arbitration, call Anderson Law. We’re here to help!