How Does Arbitration Work In Texas?
When people think of legal proceedings, they usually envision a courtroom with a judge and jury. While this is certainly true of most civil cases, and certainly all criminal cases, sometimes civil cases happen outside of the public's view. An "arbitration" occurs when two parties---the person hurt and the person/company allegedly responsible for the injury---have agreed to submit their dispute not before a court, but a private citizen who will choose who is right and who is wrong. The arbitrator, typically a retired judge, serves as judge and jury over the dispute.
Believe it or not, you're probably part of several of these agreements yourself. Most consumer contracts for everyday items like cellphones or credit cards contain provisions that require you to arbitrate any legal dispute you might have with them rather than file a lawsuit. When you click through those "I've Read And Agree To The Terms And Conditions" pages, that's one of the things you agreed to. Big companies do this because they're more concerned that a jury would render a large verdict against them and would prefer to instead have a private individual with a legal background decide their case.
Which is the point. Any company that's already planning on getting sued isn't going to pick a forum in which they have a disadvantage. That's why, if you find yourself in an arbitration for your personal injury case, you need to have a experienced lawyer on your team who's been through the arbitration process before.
In this article Texas personal injury attorney Michael Grossman explains how the arbitration process works in the Texas court system and our strategy when dealing with arbitration.
Questions answered on this page:
- What is role does arbitration serve in a Texas personal injury case?
- What is the difference between arbitration vs. a jury trial in Texas?
- Are there any advantages to arbitration in Texas?
- How does an experienced Dallas-based attorney help me win?
How personal injury victims land in arbitration.
So, why do we prefer to not take cases into arbitration? Well, it's just like the above example of cellphone or credit card agreements: our clients agreed to it long ago, usually without knowing. The most common example of this involve work injury suits. When many people sign on to work at a company, they sign reams of paperwork like tax forms, contact info, etc. What they don't usually know they're signing is an agreement to arbitrate, as well. These arbitration agreements stand up in court and require the parties to arbitrate. Many consider this practice underhanded and unfair, but courts the country over enforce them.
These agreements are known as pre-employment binding arbitration agreements. They compel any disputes that arise between the employee and the employer to be resolved through arbitration. The agreement states that both sides agree to be bound the decision of the arbitrator, with no recourse to civil court.
How arbitration works.
Arbitration is a lot like a trial. The plaintiff presents his evidence, the defendant presents theirs, and the arbitrator ultimately rules in favor of the plaintiff or defendant based upon the evidence presented. If the arbitrator in a personal injury case decides that the defendant was in fact liable for the accident, then he must decide how much money to award the plaintiff.
The rules of the process are the same that govern civil court cases. This applies to which evidence is admissible, which witnesses can be called, and the general structure of the proceedings.
Unlike a civil court where the mistakes a judge makes are appealable to a higher court, you cannot an arbitrator's decision even if the arbitrator incorrectly applies the law. However, arbitrators are attorneys and are more likely to adhere to the law if you have an advocate on your side who can remind them what the law says. This is why you need an attorney with the ability to marshal all the evidence in your case to its most polished before the arbitrator--himself a trained and experienced attorney--sees it. Juries can sometimes overlook errors that a trained legal eye will catch.
While arbitration is not the preferred venue to settle your work injury claim, it is better than nothing. Grossman Law Offices has gone through the arbitration process numerous times over the past 25 years to help our clients recover the compensation they deserve.
How Grossman Law Offices can help with your Texas work injury arbitration
Regardless of whether your case will go before a an arbitrator or a jury, you need an experienced attorney with a background of success. The attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have tried cases before juries and arbitrators, and we can put that knowledge to use for you. Call us today at 855-326-0000 for a free consultation.
Related Articles for Further Reading:
- Personal Injury Litigation: How Trials Work
- The Statute of Limitations in Texas Personal Injury Cases
- Proving Your Case: How the Preponderance of the Evidence Standard Works