What Are 3 Types of Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provides an alternative approach to resolving a legal dispute – one that is not a trial. It is often a desired way to resolve a dispute, as it saves both parties time and money. It also allows the parties to retain control over the outcome of the case rather than handing the decision over to a judge. There are currently three main types of alternative dispute resolution: mediation, collaboration and arbitration.


Mediation is a private meeting between the parties involved in the dispute and a mediator. A mediator is an unbiased third party who is trained in conflict resolution. It is often an attorney or a retired judge. The attorneys representing both parties may also attend mediation. The meeting normally takes place in an office, such as an attorney’s office or a private conference room at a courthouse. Mediation is kept private, while a trial is a public event.

During mediation, each party will state its case for the mediator. The mediator may also speak one-on-one to each of the parties in separate rooms. Then, the mediator will work with the parties and their attorneys to try to resolve the dispute with a mutual agreement, called a settlement. The mediator does not have the power to make a judgment to resolve the dispute. If mediation does not result in a successful resolution, the mediation will end and the issue will remain unresolved, allowing the parties to either try another form of ADR or go to trial.


Collaboration is similar to mediation. However, rather than meeting before a mediator, the parties will work with an attorney. The attorney will act as the third party that helps both parties find an acceptable solution. Collaboration is most common between two spouses in a family law case, such as divorce, child custody, and alimony.

Collaboration allows two parties to meet with an attorney they both trust while still keeping the dispute private and out of the courts. Like mediation, the attorney overseeing collaboration does not have the power to make a decision for the parties. If collaboration does not end in a settlement agreement, neither party can use the same attorney as representation during a trial.


The third type of alternative dispute resolution is arbitration. Arbitration is a meeting with both parties and an arbitrator present. An arbitrator is a neutral party who, like a mediator, will listen to the arguments by both parties. Unlike mediation and collaboration, however, an arbitrator has the power to make a ruling once both sides have stated their cases. In this way, arbitration is the closest type of ADR to a traditional trial.

During arbitration, the parties have the choice to pursue binding or nonbinding arbitration. Binding arbitration means both parties agree to go with the ruling made by the arbitrator and waive their right to a trial. In this scenario, the arbitrator’s ruling will be final. In nonbinding arbitration, the parties retain the right to request a hearing if they do not accept the arbitrator’s decision. Arbitration is most common when two parties wish to keep a case out of court but still want a neutral third party to make the final decision.

When to Speak to an Injury Attorney

Alternative dispute resolution has many benefits for a personal injury case. ADR typically results in a faster settlement than going to trial, saving both parties money in court costs. Settlements achieved through mediation, collaboration or arbitration are also kept confidential. ADR is more flexible than a trial and can cater to the needs of both parties. It can also keep matters more civil between the two parties rather than escalating a conflict.

If you wish to learn more about alternative dispute resolution for your personal injury lawsuit, consult with Kansas City personal injury attorney in Kansas City.



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