Every personal injury case is unique. Though the law puts them in broad categories like motor vehicle accidents and premises liability, these terms only begin to describe what happened. Each victim has gone through their own experience, suffered their own injuries, and need their own individual amount of compensation.

Therefore, it is no surprise that personal injury attorneys do not handle every case the same way. Instead, they choose from one of several tools available to hold the defendant and their insurance company accountable for their client’s injuries. In Los Angeles, the three most common methods for resolving a personal injury claim are:

Negotiation

Most personal injury cases settle out of court. Your attorney negotiates with an attorney representing the defendant, or the defendant’s insurance company, using the facts as leverage to get them to agree to the largest settlement amount possible. The negotiations can take several meetings to complete, or be relatively straightforward.

Trial

Sometimes, the two sides cannot reach an agreement. The insurance company may offer you an inadequate settlement amount and refuse to negotiate in good faith. Then it may be time to go to trial. In court, your lawyer will present evidence to the jury to show that the defendant’s negligence led to your injuries, and how much you are entitled to in compensation. However, there is always the chance that the jury will find the defendant is not liable.

Alternate dispute resolution

More and more, personal injury cases are being resolved in arbitration and mediation. These are forms of alternate dispute resolution. Arbitration resembles a trial, but is less formal and presided over by an arbitrator, not a judge. After hearing the parties’ attorneys argue their sides and reviewing the evidence, the arbitrator issues a binding decision.

Mediation is more of a negotiation, except that a knowledgeable mediator acts as a neutral facilitator to help you and the defendant agree on a settlement.

No matter how your case is resolved, it is critical that you have a personal injury attorney working on your case. The right lawyer will be your advocate and adviser, capable of representing you in any setting.