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Is arbitration right for your wrongful death claim?

Nobody really looks forward to all the anxiety and uncertainty of a trial in any type of a personal injury suit, including wrongful death claims. That's why many cases are settled out of court after the parties reach an agreement they can both tolerate.

What about the times when you and the other party can't come to an agreement?

A trial still doesn't have to be inevitable if you and the other party are willing to consider arbitration. Arbitration is not quite as formal as litigation -- but almost.

Here are the benefits:

1.) You and your opposing party can choose your own arbitrator. Arbitration can be heard by a single individual or a panel of individuals, all neutral third parties to your case. This can give both parties more satisfaction and comfort than having a randomly assigned judge or a jury.

2.) The arbitrator is an individual with legal knowledge -- unlike a jury. That may be a benefit if there are complex legal issues involved that are difficult for a layperson to grasp. An arbitrator also generally has training that helps him or her avoid getting caught up in any emotional issues involved in the case.

3.) The process, while formal and somewhat like a trial, has more relaxed evidentiary rules.

4.) The normal discovery and cross-examination opportunities are limited, which may be preferable to a defendant, particularly if they are hoping to keep certain information out of the record.

If you're in the midst of negotiations over a wrongful death claim that don't seem to be fruitful, it might be worthwhile to discuss the benefits of arbitration.

Source: adr.findlaw.com, "Using Arbitration to Resolve Legal Disputes," accessed Jan. 19, 2018

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