I was injured in a car accident. We went to an arbritator who said I should get 63,000 dollars, but could only award me the 50,000 dollar policy limit of the person who hit me. He gave the insurance company 20 days to pay or a 12% interest per day would apply after the 20 days. The insurance company refused to pay wanting instead to go to jury trial. Can I ask for more than the 50,000 dollar limit then?
The limits that can be awarded at an arbitration in Washington is $50,000. Clearly the arbitrator thought you proved more damages that he could award. You are no longer limited to the $50,000 limit. The defense has requested a trial which will likely be a jury trial. Unfortunately one never knows what sort of a jury one will end up with or whast can happen ain a courtroom. There are no guarantees. The good news for you is that if the defense does not improve their position at trial, you will be entitled to costs and attorney fees for having gone through the trial.. Say for example that the jury awards you the same amount as you got at arbitration, then your attorney can have the court increase the award substantially. You need to have a discussion with your attorney about what will happen to the award should that occur. Some lawyers will a percentage off the gross award while others will take attorney fees awarded and let you keep the rest after paying costs. But remember there is more uncertaincy going through trial than through arbitration. You need to work closely with your lawyer and have honest discussions about what to expect as you go forward.
"Can I ask for more than the 50,000 dollar limit then?" You can ask for whatever damages you think you can prove. What the judge or the jury awards you would be up to the judge or jury.
You are entitled to collect from the person who caused the damages whatever the amount of the judgment awarded you. If the insurance limit is $50,000, that often is all the insurance company will be paying. You will have to try to collect the amount above the limit from the person found liable. Often that person may be able to file bankruptcy and you would end up with whatever the insurance company pays.
The person causing the damages may have some claim against the person's insurance company for not sooner settling for the policy's limit. However, you are not a party to that case.
If you have the appropriate insurance coverage, your own insurer may have to pay something for you.
If damages are "63,000", you likely already have an attorney. You should be discussing your concerns with your attorney.
The short answer to your question is "yes." An appeal from an arbitration award is called a "de novo" appeal, meaning that the case will be tried as if the arbitration never happened. The plaintiff can ask the jury to award virtually any number. The arbitrator's award will be inadmissible in the trial and the jury will not even be aware an arbitration has occurred. Appeals such as in your case usually occur because the insurance defense attorney believes he/she can obtain a result that is less than what the arbitrator awarded. Good luck with your trial.
There are variables that relate on a state by state basis. You should consult your local attorney.
Check out my website below and give me a call for a free consultation if you are a California resident 877-427-2752 or you can email me at Michael@Kingofpersonalinjurylaw.com
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I agree with the other attorneys answering this question. A trial in front of a jury is much more formal than an arbitration, with more rules and procedures. Work closely with your attorney and follow his or her advice. You obviously did well in the arbitration and exceeded the insurance company's expectations. To repeat that in front of a jury will take some dedicated work by your attorney and you. Good luck!
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