What happens at Mandatory Arbitration in Personal Injury Cases in Cook County, Illinois
If your attorney (or you) have filed a personal injury suit in the First Municipal District in Cook County Illinois, your case will go through the Mandatory Arbitration process. Your case will be set for Mandatory Arbitration after discovery has been completed in your suit. Discovery is the process where you provide the other side with the evidence you have that supports your case, including answers to interrogatories, response to request for production and your deposition.
After discovery had been completed in your suit it will be set for Mandatory Arbitration. Mandatory Arbitration always takes place at 222 N. LaSalle on the 13th Floor. You must appear at the date and time scheduled by the court. Arbitration takes place at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. or 2:00 p.m.
The arbitration is a “mini-trial” where both parties and in some cases, witnesses, appear to testify as to the facts of the accident. The plaintiff – the party bringing the suit – also presents evidence of the injuries and damages s/he sustained in the accident. The defense – the party being sued- puts on any evidence s/he has to rebut the plaintiff’s case. The evidence is put on before a panel of three attorneys that have been trained as arbitrators. The arbitrators will review your case, determine a reasonable value of your case, and to prepare a written award. The entire arbitration process cannot last longer than 2 hours, including all of the testimony and evidence and the time it takes the arbitrators to write an award for one party or the other.
After the arbitrators decide who wins and how much, if anything, the Award is written and turned in the to front desk where it is processed. After the award has been entered, either party has 30 days to accept or reject the award. To accept, you do nothing. To reject the award, you must file a formal Notice of Rejection and pay a fee to the clerk of the court before the 30 days expires.
If both sides do nothing and accept the award both sides will appear at the Judgment on the Award (“JOA”) date in Room 1501 of the Richard J. Daley Center and enter an order consistent with the Award of the Arbitrators. The JOA date is located on the bottom of the Award. If the Award is rejected, at the same date and time of the JOA an order sending the matter to a trial judge should be entered. If nothing is done and no order is entered, the case will be dismissed for want of prosecuation at the JOA.
Statistically, approximately 50 % of cases are resolved by the Mandatory Arbitration process.