CHARLESTON – Ask anyone who has ever been involved in a lawsuit, and they’ll tell you about the expensive and lengthy process of resolving disputes through litigation.

Often times we all pay for the cost of expensive litigation through higher prices for goods and services.

America’s litigation system costs families thousands per year on average, and if the personal injury lawyers get their way it could end up costing even more. According to the U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform, seven in 10 small business owners say that a lawsuit would force them to reduce benefits for current employees and hold back hiring new ones.

Thankfully, there is an option to consider before filing an expensive lawsuit to resolve a dispute. If you are involved in a dispute and are considering a legal action, be a wise legal consumer and consider using arbitration or another alternative dispute resolution process, such as mediation.

Arbitration is a voluntary, out-of-court method of dispute resolution where disputing parties make voluntary, out-of-court methods of dispute resolution where disputing parties make their case to a neutral, independent arbitrator, whom they have mutually selected. This process can have many advantages, including being faster, simpler and less expensive than litigation.

In many instances, personal injury lawyers prefer to quickly file a lawsuit with hopes of earning large lawsuit fees associated with a jackpot justice verdict. Unfortunately, too often we see settlements driven by lawsuit greed that may result in some personal injury lawyers getting rich and their clients left with too little.

Arbitration can be good for all parties and has many advantages over litigation. The only people arbitration isn’t good for is personal injury lawyers because it means fewer lawsuit fees.

In addition to working to ensure and protect the right to a jury trial, we should equally be focused on protecting arbitration and mediation laws and not cave to personal injury lawyer special interests who have been known to seek to prohibit these attractive dispute resolution alternatives.

Stauffer is executive director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.

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