December 3, 2020
Arbitration and Mediation in Construction Accident Cases
By Jonathan Damashek
Construction is among the most dangerous jobs you can do. Use of heavy machinery and tools, often at great heights and in extreme weather, increases the risk of potential harm. When workers are injured or killed, compensation is required. Most often it is through the workers’ compensation system, but sometimes personal injury or wrongful death claims might be necessary.
Because disputed personal injury claims that can’t be settled take years to get to court, an option to resolve the matter more quickly is the use of arbitration and mediation in construction accident cases. The New York City construction accident lawyers at Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., understand all the different ways to get your claims settled so that you received full and fair compensation as quickly as possible.
Understanding Arbitration and Mediation
In 2019, 565 constructed related accidents occurred in New York City, according to city data. Twelve workers died and another 595 were injured in those construction accidents. With hundreds of construction accidents every year, in addition to other personal injury cases, it is easy to see how the legal system can get overwhelmed. Cases that can’t be settled can be litigated for years before a trial occurs.
But when you’ve been injured on your construction job, you likely face increased expenses at a time when you have no income. If eligible for workers’ comp, you may receive some wage replacement and medical expense coverage, but it likely won’t be enough. So, if there are other parties responsible for your accident, you can pursue them for compensation for your damages.
Delays help the defense because there’s no incentive to settle if they don’t have to pay your claim for several years. It may even prompt them to pepper you will low offers hoping you’ll get frustrated and accept.
By working with an experienced construction injury lawyer, though, we can help navigate the process and get you the compensation you deserve. One avenue to consider is agreeing to mediation or arbitration to resolve the dispute. Because private companies handle mediation and arbitration, the case is on a faster timetable.
While there are many companies that provide these services in NYC, the two main ones are National Arbitration and Mediation (NAM), which has several NYC locations, and Judicial Arbitration and Mediations Services (JAMS), located in the NY Times Building on 8th Ave. Because we have worked with these services in the past, we will be sure to pick the one best for your case.
Mediation and arbitration are terms that some people use interchangeably because they are forms of “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR). But they are not the same.
- Mediation is a non-binding process that occurs when parties agree to hire a mediator to help resolved the case. The mediator is typically a retired judge or attorney, who is an expert in the area in dispute. Prior to meeting with the parties, each side submits its facts, evidence, and arguments on the case to the mediator. The mediation typically lasts a few hours as the mediator tries to settle the case by explaining to each party the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s case. Even if the matter isn’t settled at the mediation, the parties may walk away with a better understanding that leads to settlement.
- Arbitration, unlike mediation, is a binding process where a private arbitrator decides the issues of fault and how much is owed, if any, in damages. Sometimes, prior to the arbitration, the parties will agree on a “high-low” award. This means that if the arbitrator’s award is between the high-low amounts, it will be paid. If outside of the amounts, it will be paid at least as much as the low and no more than the high.
Both avenues have pros and cons. As your construction injury attorneys, we’ll handle the legal strategy for your claim so you can concentrate on getting better. We have effectively used mediation and arbitration to settle claims for the compensation our clients deserved.
Hurt on Your Construction Job? We Can Help
You may believe workers’ comp is the only way you can be compensated when you get hurt on your construction job. But it may be that there are additional parties who are at fault and may be liable for your damages. Although it can take years to litigate a personal injury claim, using mediation or arbitration could help settle your claim quicker.
Contact Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., to discuss your accident by calling (212) 490-5700 or use our online form. The consultation is free and so are our services if we don’t succeed in getting you compensation for your injuries.