On behalf of Sayer Regan & Thayer of Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP posted on Wednesday, November 18, 2020.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) offers a different way to address and resolve legal issues, including personal injury cases, in an effort to avoid having to go to trial. The main forms of ADR include mediation and arbitration, both of which have many similarities and differences. The one that is used in a given situation will depend on the circumstances of that case.


Both mediation and arbitration involve using a neutral third party, such as a retired judge or lawyer. Typically, the parties in dispute will select the mediator or arbitrator by mutual agreement and then divide the cost of the mediator or arbitrator evenly. Most mediators or arbitrators charge hourly rates, while some charge one flat fee.


The role played by the third party forms the main differences between the two methods.


With mediation, the mediator takes a collaborative approach between the two parties where they try to come to a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute.

  • The two parties and their lawyers will meet up together along with the mediator, who will explain the nature of mediation and the way in which it will proceed.
  • Each party will sign a mediation agreement.
  • Next, each side will present its view of the case.
  • The two sides will separate while the mediator goes between the two groups to convey offers and counter offers.
  • The mediator cannot resolve the dispute without the two parties being in agreement.
  • If the parties can’t reach an agreement, mediation ends, the dispute stays unresolved, and the matter will go to trial.

There are a few advantages of mediation. First, all parties have to agree to the settlement, which means no one party is bound to a resolution they didn’t agree to. This option also comes with a big cost savings, as compared with having to pay experts to testify at trial or pay exhibit costs.
However, the big downside to this option is also its benefit: both parties must be in full agreement and the matter can’t be resolved unless and until everyone is on the same page.


In arbitration, the parties must agree that the arbitrator is the one who will resolve their dispute. Sometimes the arbitrator can resolve the matter based solely on written submissions, while other times they can hear testimony and oral arguments to help them make their decision at the hearing.
The arbitrator’s decision is binding on the parties, which is why arbitration is consider to be more like a trial. However, the rules of evidence and procedures are more relaxed and less formal than a trial.
The big advantage to using arbitration is that expert testimony may be presented through the expert’s written records instead of through a live testimony or deposition, which represents big cost savings. Arbitration’s two big advantages include lower cost and prompt resolution without having to go to trial. The downside is that the arbitrator’s decision is final and there is no chance of appeal.
Your attorney will be helpful in determining if arbitration or mediation would be best for your personal injury case.

Have a Legal Dispute in Rhode Island? Contact Sayer Regan & Thayer

To get your free consultation on your personal injury case, please contact us today. Our attorneys are well-versed in the methods of alternative dispute resolution, and use them often to resolve our clients’ personal injury cases quickly and affordably.

These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.