Alternative dispute resolution provides a method for the parties to resolve their differences without having to present their case in court. The vast majority of civil legal claims are settled through some form of alternative dispute resolution, with negotiation being the most common. In fact, some experts state that over 95% of all legal claim settle before a judge or jury hears them.
What are some types of alternative dispute resolution?
ADR can occur in a variety of ways. Some methods may work well for one case but not be a good match for others. Examples of alternative dispute resolution include the following:
- A third party helps the two (or more) main parties in mediation. This person is referred to as a “mediator.” The mediator will try to work both parties to come up with a mutually agreeable solution for everyone. The mediator’s role is to encourage and facilitate communication. This is a much more causal process that fosters creative solutions to complex issues.
- This process is much more like presenting your case to a judge. A third party, called an “arbitrator,” will hear arguments and evidence from each side and then make a decision regarding the dispute. The rules of evidence are more relaxed, but the presentation is similar to a real trial. Arbitration generally has two forms: non-binding and binding. Binding arbitration means that the decision of the arbitrator is final. The parties have no right to a trial and agree to accept the final decision of the arbitrator.
- Attorneys negotiate with one another all the time. They frequently provide settlement proposals back and forth as a case progresses. Negotiation is perhaps the cheapest alternative dispute resolution because it can be done without involving a third party, and it could include something as simple as a few phone calls back and forth.
- Settlement Conference. A settlement conference requires that the parties, their attorneys, and a neutral third-party (sometimes a judge or another person that the parties agree upon) will sit in a room to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of a case. They will attempt to value a claim and determine what a fair amount of compensation for the damages involved will be.
There are other types of alternative dispute resolution, but these are the most common. The kind that you use, if any, will depend a great deal on the type of claim you have, the facts of your case, and who is involved in your lawsuit.
In some situations, ADR may not be productive because we know that an insurance company isn’t going to offer anywhere near what your case is really worth. Those cases are the ones that should go to trial.
What are the benefits of ADR?
There are two significant benefits to ADR—they are big ones. These reasons are why alternative dispute resolution is so widely used in Georgia.
- Resolving a claim without having to go through a full trial is often much more cost-effective, especially for insurance companies. Trials may take days or even weeks, and they require a great deal of preparation. Although ADR still involves prep work, the process itself is more casual and generally takes less time. For accident victims, ADR is also a lot less emotionally and physically draining than going through a trial.
- Quick, tailored resolutions. ADR allows the parties to create a solution that works for them. In mediation, for example, the parties can create a unique solution that fits both of their needs. You don’t have that kind of power or control in the courtroom in front of a judge or jury. Decisions are made the same day with ADR as well. While juries make decisions much faster than judges, it can take months or even years to get jury scheduled in Georgia. With ADR, you don’t have to wait nearly as long to resolve your case completely.
Is alternative dispute resolution an option for me?
Good lawyers prepare for every case as if it’s going to trial. But, the reality is that some cases may be better off using alternative dispute resolution to get a fair result. John Foy & Associates is ready to go to trial for your case, but we will let you know if ADR might work better for you. Learn more by contacting our team. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.