If you have been injured in a car accident and are unable to settle your case, you will undoubtedly go through a process called “mediation.” The mediation may occur prior to starting a lawsuit, but more commonly occurs after a lawsuit is commenced. That is because the courts generally require that mediation occur before they will allow a trial to take place.
What is a mediation?
A mediation is an opportunity for the parties to discuss their disputes with the assistance of a trained, impartial third person whose job it is to assist them in reaching a settlement.
Who is the mediator and what do they do?
Before the mediation, the parties will agree on an individual to act as the mediator. Typically, this person will be an attorney who has relevant subject matter experience or a retired judge who has handled similar claims in the past. The mediator’s role is to privately discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case with that party and explore the potential to reach a settlement.
Prior to the mediation, the parties confidentially submit information to the mediator about how the accident occurred and what the injuries and claims are that need to be considered at the mediation. At an agreed upon date and time, the parties and their attorney will appear, either in person or remotely via videoconference, to conference with the mediator and discuss their respective positions. This conferencing is usually done separately, with each party and their attorney appearing in separate rooms (either physically or digitally). The mediator will then go between the rooms as the negotiation progresses. The mediator is not allowed to disclose anything a party says in the mediator’s presence to the other party unless the party authorizes such a disclosure.
The Benefits of Mediation
Mediation is beneficial in that it allows the parties to express their positions, receive feedback from an “uninterested party,” and potentially resolve a dispute without incurring the cost of further litigation. This exchange of information can be eye-opening to the parties. Sometimes parties are not as far apart in their positions as they had thought, and settlement is reached. Other times, a party’s claims or defenses are not as legitimate as the other might have expected.
If the matter is resolved at mediation, there is typically a written agreement signed. Mediators cannot issue a binding decision; they can only help draft a settlement that includes the terms agreed to by the parties. Whether or not the matter is resolved, the mediator cannot be called as a witness or be compelled to disclose their discussions with the parties. The parties typically split the expense of the mediator, most of whom charge by the hour. Mediation is a beneficial process that can help parties resolve their disputes without having to deal with the costly and time-consuming process of going to trial.
If you have been injured in an accident, please call 651-493-0426 for a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced attorney and explore any potential claims you may have.