Litigation is “a contest authorized by law, in a court of justice, for the purpose of enforcing a right.” More specifically, litigation is the actual legal skirmish that commences when attempts at diplomatic discussion have proven unsatisfactory.
When other avenues—settlement negotiation, arbitration, etc.—fail, and one or more parties are unappeased, litigation is the binding last resort.
If Minnie Q. Mouse is injured while mining gypsum, and her employer, Donald R. Duck maintains that his upkeep of the mine and the training videos all employees are mandated to watch should have prevented any accident not attributable to employee carelessness, the two will probably not come to an agreement. At this point, Mouse has the option to arbitrate, but worries that she could lose and be prevented from appealing the outcome. Furthermore, she believes that Duck tripped her and that she should press criminal harassment charges to teach him a lesson. Ms. Mouse therefore opts for litigation.
Other Important Information
Most personal injury cases don’t end in litigation. In fact, the state of Utah has adopted no-fault laws to incentivize settlements out of court. Accordingly, this is how the vast majority of cases are handled. A case that settles peaceably is generally in the best interests of all involved, as the costs of litigation and the time invested in a trial raise stakes that are already uncomfortably high. Nevertheless, in cases where one party to negotiation obstinately refuses to be reasonably accommodating, litigation may be the only option. While litigation is an effective (if sometimes unsavory) way to claim satisfaction for a serious injury orchestrated by negligence, this course should not be taken lightly, as there may be no going back. According to 31A-22-303(8)(b), “[o]nce the claimant has elected to commence litigation…the claimant may not elect to resolve the claim through binding arbitration under this section without the written consent of both parties and the defendant’s liability insurer.”