What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

January 12, 2022 | Personal Injury

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is also commonly referred to as external dispute resolution. This typically involves a range of dispute resolution processes or techniques that plaintiffs and defendants can use to settle disagreements. The ultimate goal of alternative dispute resolution methods is to avoid the costly process of taking a claim all the way to trial. Here, we want to review some of the main alternative dispute resolution processes that could take place for a personal injury claim.

Most Common Forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution

There are various common forms of alternative dispute resolution used in Indiana. This includes mediation and arbitration.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is one of the most common forms of ADR and is often requested by a judge. The goal of mediation is to help both parties, the plaintiff and the defendant, come to a resolution before a costly and lengthy trial becomes necessary.

Mediation leaves control of the outcome to the parties involved, and an impartial mediator will step in to handle communication and negotiations with both sides. Typically, both parties will begin a mediation in the same room, with each party telling their side of events. They will then separate, and then a mediator will go between both parties to help them identify the issues with the dispute and offer options for a resolution.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a more formal form of ADR, and this takes away the decision-making process from the parties involved. An arbitrator will hear the arguments and evidence from each side and then decide the outcome of the dispute. In a mediation, both parties get to help craft the settlement process. In an arbitration, the arbitrator makes the decision. 

Arbitration can be either “binding” or “non-binding.” 

A binding arbitration means that both parties waive their right to a trial and agree to accept the arbitrator’s decision as final. There are generally no rights to appeal these decisions. It is not uncommon for a binding arbitration to be a part of agreements signed between two parties in a contract.

A non-binding arbitration means that both parties can request a trial if they do not accept the arbitrator’s decision.

Other Types of ADR

There are various other types of alternative dispute resolution methods that may be available in Indiana. This includes:

  • Neutral evaluation. This is similar to a mediation where both parties will present their case to a neutral party who gives their opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of each side. However, this is less formal than a full mediation. This route is generally better for non-technical conflicts. 
  • Settlement conferences. Settlement conferences can be either voluntary or mandatory, depending on the judge in the case. A judge could order a settlement conference in an attempt to resolve the dispute before the trial becomes necessary.

Regardless of the type of alternative dispute resolution method you think will work best, we strongly encourage you to contact a skilled accident lawyer in Indiana. An attorney is still going to be incredibly beneficial, even if you decide not to take your injury claim to trial. A lawyer will be by your side during whichever alternative dispute resolution method you choose to use.