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Alternative Dispute Resolution in Minnesota - Mediation and Arbitration
Scott Johnson Mar 29, 2021 12:00:00 AM
The vast majority of injury cases are resolved before ever stepping foot in a court room. In most cases, the injured claimant and their attorney are able to agree on a settlement with the insurance company that they are presenting their claim with. For those cases that can’t be resolved with a settlement between the parties, there are many alternatives to bring claims to a resolution without the time commitment and extra expense of going to trial.
Over the last twenty years, Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, has grown enormously popular as a way to resolve claims for injuries in the State of Minnesota and around the country. If you are involved in some type of litigation for an injury, it is very likely that you will see your claim brought to an ADR proceeding at some point during the case.
The two most common ADR proceedings for injury cases in Minnesota are mediation and arbitration. In both of these proceedings, a neutral third party assists the parties in finding a resolution to the claim. The mediator or arbitrator is almost always an attorney that has years of experience practicing law in an area relevant to the case. For example, a mediator overseeing a workers’ compensation case is sure to have knowledge and experience about the workers’ compensation system in the state in which the case is presented. He or she will use this knowledge and experience to help the parties come to a settlement that both sides are happy with.
A mediator is a professional who presides over a mediation. It is the mediator’s job to speak to everyone involved in the case and find common ground upon which a settlement agreement can be forged that is satisfactory to all sides. Usually, the parties to a lawsuit have no contact with each other during the mediation proceeding and the mediator controls all communication. This is done to ensure that any animosity between the parties is set aside, so the focus can remain on finding a solution to the dispute.
For a personal injury claim presented in Minnesota District Court, parties are required to attempt to come to a settlement in mediation before the case can be brought to trial. This type of mediation can be very expensive, which should be considered when deciding whether or not to file a lawsuit.
Mediation of workers’ compensation claims in Minnesota is not required. However, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, who oversees the workers’ compensation system, provides free mediation services. Because of this, injured workers can also expect to go through mediation.
On the whole, it is usually a good idea to mediate a case, because it can significantly reduce the time, money, and stress involved with the long and arduous process of taking a case to trial.
Arbitration is another common ADR proceeding in the State of Minnesota. In an arbitration, a person called the arbitrator makes the final decision about a conflict in case. As with mediators, arbitrators are professionals that have great experience with the types of claims that are brought to them.
The process is not unlike a court trial, although it is much more informal. First, the parties go through discovery, where they share and request evidence from each other. Then, the parties will schedule a hearing, usually at the office of the arbitrator or one of the attorneys involved, and the hearing will proceed like a trial with questions asked and arguments made to try to convince the arbitrator to rule in one side’s favor.
Arbitrations occur most often when there is a dispute between an individual injured in a motor vehicle accident and the auto insurance company that is supposed to pay their medical bills. When it comes to these types of cases, Minnesota law requires arbitration if the amount of medical bills in dispute is less than $10,000. Most auto insurers stop paying medical benefits at some point, so it’s likely that if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, you will eventually see your case go to arbitration.
These are just two of the ADR options available to resolve disputes. Due to constantly rising costs and time constraints, as well as changes to the legal system resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, ADR is here to stay, and will likely become more important as time goes on.
If you find yourself in need of an attorney for help with an injury-related case, please call 651-493-0426 to set up a free consultation with the attorneys at Aaron Ferguson Law.