Every civil legal situation can be handled differently. People who have a claim against another person or business do not always have to take their case to trial. Avoiding trial may be something that both parties would prefer.

Trials can take time to prepare, and cost money. In the meantime, the party that was injured is still suffering from the event, and the legal costs are increasing.

There are, however, alternatives to a trial. These alternatives allow you to seek the justice or compensation that you want for your losses, and each of them has binding results.

Alternatives to a trial in Massachusetts that you may wish to consider include:

Small Claims Court

If the civil case has damages valued under $2,500, you may have the option of taking your case to small claims court. Here you can present your case to a judge and allow the judge to decide on the verdict without a jury trial. The turnaround time for this type of case is speedy, and the filing fees and court costs are minimal. In many cases, the Plaintiff can also ask that the defendant also cover the costs of filing in small claims court.


Mediation is a type of legal program that allows both sides of the issue to sit down with a third party and discuss their case. In most cases, both parties will also have legal representation when they go to mediation, and their attorneys will guide the discussion.

If you can solve the problems in mediation, you do not have to take the case any further. Mediation can be binding – meaning that whatever the mediator states at the end of the discussion must be upheld by law or non-binding which means if the agreement is not followed through, the case can still go to court.


Arbitration is a combination of a trial and meditation. It is a little more formal than mediation but has a panel of an independent person or body officially appointed that listens to the case, views the evidence, and decides the outcome of the case. In most situations, the findings of arbitration are binding, just like a trial.

Alternatives to a Trial in Massachusetts Have a High Success Rate

Using one of the alternatives to a trial may be the right solution for you. With the assistance of an attorney, you may be able to successfully negotiate an end to your legal problem faster and more cost-effectively.

If you are unsure which of the alternatives to a trial would best suit your case, you are encouraged to speak with an attorney. An attorney can tell you which type of negotiation process would be most beneficial. Many attorneys are also mediators or arbitrators, so they will be able to guide you through this process.

These less than formal alternatives to a trial have a very high success rate. Both sides of the issue are often more willing to negotiate and comply with the terms of the negotiations to avoid the costs and exposure of trial. Many businesses that are taken to mediation or arbitration ask for the case not to be disclosed publicly as part of their conditions to settle. If this is acceptable, the plaintiff usually is granted what they desire in forms of compensation.

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