Arbitration in car wreck cases is fairly straight-forward. Both parties pick an arbitrator, and these two arbitrators pick a neutral third. I have been the plaintiff’s pick in four cases this month. Generally, it has been a pleasant process. Plaintiff’s rarely will “ring the bell” and get an extremely high recovery, but they also rarely will get a zero based on juror bias or lack of understanding. Usually, clients are better off having a moderate recovery in arbitration than the uncertainty of trial.
The plaintiff’s case should be very short, less than one hour unless it is a complex case. There is no need to go over all of the medical treatment, as we will read the medical records and any depositions or affidavits from physicians. The main goal is to establish the credibility of the plaintiff and don’t overstate any part of the case. Honest arguments that address weaknesses as well as strengths will help you get a favorable result. The plaintiff’s attorney should make sure to highlight opinion letters or particular portions of the depositions, such as the causation opinions. Let the panel of arbitrators read the rest, if they want. Don’t play video depositions unless the case is complex and warrants it.
Give the panel the information they need to decide the case. If there are no out of work notes from physicians, then you have proof problems for lost wages. Prepare in advance and provide opposing counsel with information with enough time for them to review. Finally, it is a very good idea to prepare arbitration notebooks containing accident reports, medical records, condensed deposition transcripts and any key documents such as photos. If you prepare properly, arbitration can be a fair and efficient process.