The concept of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) encompasses any type of negotiated conclusion of a dispute facilitated by someone other than a judge or jury. While it is true that when settlement negotiations in a personal injury matter fail, litigation in court is often perceived as the next logical step, it does not have to be this way. In fact, there are times when alternative dispute resolution in one form or another is advisable and perhaps even strongly encouraged by a presiding judge. Whether achieved via arbitration, mediation or a private settlement conference, resolutions achieved outside of the courts regularly prove to be faster, less expensive and more mutually agreeable than those rendered at the end of a protracted litigation battle.
Common Types of ADR in Colorado
There are various types of dispute resolution processes available to parties seeking an alternative to the courts, with arbitration, mediation and private settlement conferences being most frequently employed in Colorado. Arbitration is often perceived to be the more formal of the three options, as it is binding in nature. A set of specific rules must be followed by those agreeing to arbitration, though the ones applicable to evidence are admittedly far more lenient than they would be in a court of law. Matters submitted to arbitration may be decided by an individual or a panel, depending on the circumstances.
Mediation is usually non-binding and may sometimes be ordered by the courts. In such a process, a neutral, third-party individual will assist by facilitating negotiations, getting relevant facts on the table and exploring the positions and motivations underlying each side's arguments. Because of its more informal nature, mediation can involve separate meetings between the mediator and the opposing parties, something which can help in the crafting of mutually beneficial and satisfactory outcomes that avoid the stress, emotional conflict and cost of litigation. Generally speaking, mediation is conclusive to a dispute only if the parties agree to and sign a written document memorializing the terms.
Settlement conferences are routinely overseen by a judge or magistrate different than the one assigned to hear the case absent a voluntary resolution. Both sides will be presented and an informal analysis of the strengths of each party's arguments may be made. Negotiations may then ensue, though there is no requirement that the parties come together in agreement, and any consensus reached is entirely voluntary in nature.
Key Benefits of ADR
Though many parties to lawsuits are initially unfamiliar with the idea of alternative dispute resolution, once they understand some of the benefits it can offer, they quickly get on board. First of all, ADR processes can help the parties to a dispute feel that they have retained more control over the outcome than they would otherwise have before a court where their fate would be in the hands of a judge or jury. The evidence allowed in ADR proceedings is subject to far fewer of the onerous discovery rules that would apply in traditional litigation, allowing both sides to tell their story at much lower expense of both time and money. Furthermore, ADR permits the parties to retain a much greater degree of privacy than would be possible in formal litigation, with confidentiality safeguards almost always in place. Finally, the types of remedies and solutions that can be formulated in ADR are much more expansive than would be available in a court of law, as they are limited only by the ingenuity of the negotiators and facilitators involved.
Dispute Resolution Counsel for Colorado's Injured
If you have been injured due to negligence and believe alternative dispute resolution may be a viable option for resolving your claims, attorney Jeremy Rosenthal stands prepared to guide you through the process of selecting the forum that best suits your needs. To discuss the specifics of your case, and to begin the process of achieving the compensation and closure you need, contact us at 303.825.2223.