When victims of truck accidents seek compensation, they have two choices: they can either file a personal injury lawsuit with the trucking company or engage in alternative dispute resolution to reach a settlement. Civil law in California, as in other states, allows for either option. However, victims should understand the difference between binding and non-binding agreements.
The most common methods of ADR are negotiation, mediation and arbitration. The first two are non-binding and can take place simultaneously as the case goes through civil court. Arbitration, however, is a substitute for a civil trial. Therefore, once an agreement is made, the victim waives the right to going to trial on the same claim. No matter which ADR method a victim chooses, the process will be quicker and cost less money than a trial.
The main benefit of ADR is that it provides a confidential environment where both parties can candidly discuss the accident without admissions of fault. When both parties are not defensive, they can more easily make an amicable agreement. However, one drawback is that a settlement payout could be lower than what may have been achieved in a successful trial. The victim is also prevented from publicly holding the defendant liable.
A victim will want to find a lawyer who focuses on 18-wheeler accidents and knows which ADR methods suit which situations. A lawyer could also prepare the case with the help of accident investigators and other experts. This team could use eyewitness testimony, work logs, police reports and other evidence to show that a trucker was negligent. Such work could lead to a higher payout.