We recently obtained an arbitration award in favor of a California resident who was involved in a car accident in 2006 on the Stevenson Expressway while he was in town for a trade show. After receiving emergency room care here in Chicago, he returned to California where he received medical care and pursued a worker’s compensation case. As part of the worker’s compensation case, he underwent three “independent” medical exams at the behest of his employer. All three examiners recommended surgery, but the client decided to not have the operation.
Liability was not contested, but the nature and extent of his injuries and damages were. We agreed to resolve the case by way of a binding arbitration hearing which was conducted by a retired Cook County judge. The reason that we elected to do a binding arbitration hearing instead of a jury trial was that the simplified rules of evidence in arbitration hearings would allow for the admission of the doctor’s reports from California without our incurring the expense of traveling to California, paying the hourly rates for the trial testimony his doctors, which ranged from $400 to $1,500 per hour), and having the testimony videotaped and then later edited. Also, the arbitration hearing would be completed in an afternoon instead of a week. This was a significant consideration for the client who would have had to stay in Chicago for the duration of the trial. We estimate that resolving the case in this manner saved the client approximately $15,000 – $20,000 in case file expenses.
Before the arbitration hearing, we entered into a high-low agreement with the defense, which provided for a minimum award of $55,000 and a maximum award of $150,000. In a high-low agreement, the arbitrator is not advised of the parameters of his award and makes his award based on the evidence presented. If the award is below the minimum, then the plaintiff receives the minimum; if the award is above the maximum, then the plaintiff receives the maximum; anywhere in between, the arbitrator’s award stands.
The arbitrator entered an award in favor of our client for $150,318. Due to the effect of the high-low agreement, the client will receive $150,000. (Cook County)