Arbitration is a legal proceeding, more informal than a trial setting, during which both sides in a dispute offer their testimony and evidence to a neutral party, called the arbitrator. This "referee" is often a retired judge or an attorney of long experience. After a hearing of both sides, the arbitrator decides upon an award, a certain amount of money, to be given to one of the two parties.
This arbitration can be either "binding" or non-binding, depending on what kind of arbitration it is. In the case of personal injury claims, there are generally two types of arbitration. The first is court-ordered mandatory arbitration in which the award is not binding (though it is important in settling the dispute). In this type of arbitration, either side can reject the arbitrator’s award. If this rejection occurs, the matter proceeds to jury trial where no reference can be made to the arbitrator's award. In the case of binding arbitration, the award is final. The arbitrator's award is usually paid very quickly after it is rendered. Other kinds of disputes can also be settled through arbitration, if the parties involved so agree.