These days, many people are looking to less expensive ways of settling disputes that would traditionally be handled in a court room. Mediation is the process where two opposing parties sit down with a mediator to settle a dispute, such as a personal injury claim.
If you have reached a standstill with an insurance company regarding a settlement, setting up mediation may be a way to settle the dispute.
How Mediation Works
Mediation only works if both opposing sides volunteer to participate. Each side will sit down with a mediator and discuss the situation. Because mediation is not part of an actual lawsuit, a settlement is only reached when both parties agree to the settlement. In most situations, the cost of mediation will be split equally between the two opposing parties.
The purpose of mediation is to handle a dispute, not further it along to court. However, if a settlement is not reached and a lawsuit ensues, nothing that was discussed in mediation can be used in court. Mediation is informal and is not part of the legal process.
The mediation process is straightforward and should only take a few hours. Both parties will sit together and speak directly to the mediator while the other party listens. Next, each party with have a chance to talk directly to the other party while the mediator observes and takes notes. After this, each party will have an opportunity to talk to the mediator alone. At this point, the mediator will gather all the notes from each discuss and form a suggested method of resolution. Without disclosing what was discussed in the two private discussions, the mediator will coax each party to shift position just enough so that an agreement can be reached. In mediation, there are no restrictions to what is said or how facts are presented.
Depending on your area, there may be mediation centers available. Some cities have resolution centers that deal primarily with neighborhood disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, and consumer/contractor disputes. The mediators in these centers are typically trained in conflict resolution, however they are usually not experienced with personal injury claims.
If your dispute deals with personal injury, it would be best to seek a professional mediator with a legal background. Many mediators are practicing or retired lawyers who have extensive experience with personal injury and would be more equipped with handling this type of dispute. Depending on the mediator’s experience and legal background, some mediation sessions range from $100 to $300 an hour per person, while some may cost only a few hundred dollars for the entire session.
Advantages of Mediation
The most beneficial aspect of mediation is that it typically costs less than hiring an attorney and going to court. Mediation allows for a less stressful way of handling a dispute that would typically last weeks, or even months, in a court room. When dealing with an insurance company, having an insurance adjuster participate in a mediation session also have various benefits. Instead of your insurance claim simply being another file on a desk, the insurance adjuster sees you as a person, and this could make reaching a settlement much easier. Because mediation is informal and usually way less stressful than litigation, settlements are often reached much more easily and quickly than in court.
Disadvantages of Mediation
While mediation does have many benefits, it can be very expensive depending on your area. While resolution centers are available in some areas, you may not have one close to you, forcing you to seek a professional mediator that will likely charge a hefty sum. Also, some insurance adjusters may not agree to participate in mediation as it takes time and extra work.
When Mediation is Recommended?
When considering the advantages and disadvantages, mediation may be best in these scenarios:
1. You and the insurance adjuster are $2000 or more apart in settling
2. The extent of your injury is not being agreed on or the degree of fault each party had in the accident
3. You are not making any progress with negotiating on your own with the insurance adjuster, but you do not want to go to small claims court yet.
Seek an Attorney
In some cases, mediation will not bring the resolution that you need. If you have been badly injured or you do not know which steps to take to find resolution in a personal injury case, contact Bighorn Law to set up a consultation. The attorneys at Bighorn Law know how to construct your case and how to get you the compensation that you deserve.