Litigation Alternatives: Avoid Suing and Being Sued

What are the benefits to lawsuit alternatives? Litigation alternatives can save a lot of money and a lot of time. Three ways to avoid proceedings are settlements, mediation, and arbitration.

Settlement

Before you even consider going to court, you should consider a settlement. This lawsuit alternative can be very cost-effective because both parties can discuss the dispute at any time before the court action. In fact, most matters can be settled before the trial stage. A court can provide assistance if you choose to settle. When you research settlement options, make sure that you are talking about lawsuits and litigation, “settlement” has other meanings depending on context.

Mediation

This is another good lawsuit alternative because a neutral party is there to mediate and keep emotions from running high. Both parties can meet privately with the mediator to discuss strengths and weaknesses before both sides meet together. The mediator will identify risks and goals for each party. However, the mediator does not have the power to force a settlement.

Arbitration

Like a mediator, the arbitrator is a neutral third party that is called upon to resolve a dispute. Both parties present their evidence and argue their case in front of the arbitrator. The arbitrator then decides who wins the case. This is a cost-effective alternative and less formal than going to trial. However, the arbitration agreement is binding and usually cannot appeal to a court after a ruling.

Avoid Disputes Altogether

In the Reader’s Digest, Brandon Ballenger lists tips to settle disputes before they turn into lawsuit matters.

1. Get to know the other party. While Ballenger’s article deals with bad neighbors, his advice can be applied to all relationships. Building trust and understanding is key
2. Head off problems before they’re problems. If you know you may affect someone, give them a head’s up or a way to contact you, that way they get in touch with you instead of the police.
3. Document any problems. This will help you evaluate whether the problem is serious, and you will have organized evidence if the problem escalates.
4. Talk it out. Instead of letting the problem fester or escalate, be open and talk with the person who hurt/offended you. Be positive even if they are not.
5. Look for advice online, from friends, and family. See if you have a similar problem and if other people will side with you.
6. Talk with a lawyer. Use this as a last resort. But if things do escalate, a lawyer can advise you
7. Consider a small claims court. This is a much cheaper option because you represent yourself.