Litigation can be really expensive. Especially if you are involved in a personal injury case and you’re having to worry about medical bills, getting back to work, and winning a case. One option you have that can save time and money is mediation.
The Benefits of Mediation
Mediation is used for a variety of conflicts: divorce, neighborly disputes, property damage, and can be used for most civil lawsuits. In personal injury, the plaintiff will almost always be negotiating with an insurance company. The mediation allows the plaintiff to pin down how much the insurance company is willing to give before going to full on litigation. Many time mediation won’t end up in a settlement or agreement that is sufficient for the plaintiff in personal injury cases. The prime benefit is that the plaintiff can at least find out how much the company was willing to give instead of just heading straight to court.
Another benefit is that both parties have more control over the procedures and issues that get talked about. It is less of a yes or no, guilty or innocent, situation than in court which allows for more to be addressed in the process. Usually this means better future relations between the parties instead of any heated emotions that might result from an undesirable verdict. Also, in personal injury cases, the insurance adjuster will see be in the same room with you looking your face and you will see his or hers. Instead of being an email folder or a slot in a filing cabinet, you’re a human in the same room.
The Process of Mediation
Mediations are ran by a mediator and generally it follows a six step process (although different mediators have different processes:
- Introductory Remarks – Mediator introduces him/her self and lays down the rules for procedure, the general guideline he/she wants it iterate, and a summary of what he or she knows about the case.
- Statement of Problem – Each side has a designated turn to explain their conceived side of the problem and how it has affected them.
- Information Gathering – The mediator goes back and forth asking open ended questions to find the emotional undertones and identify the facts surrounding the case.
- Identification of problems – Mediator identifies the common goals of each party—settle, to receive a certain amount of money, to not lose a certain amount of money, etc.
- Bargaining and Generating Options – Usually performed using caucus, where each party goes into a separate room and the mediator might draw up a proposal and have each modify it back and forth.
- Reach an Agreement or Not – Either parties will come to an agreement through the bargaining process or decide to go to court.
After an agreement is made the two parties will have settlement-agreement in writing and submit it a final proposed consent order to the court for approval. If there is no possible settlement, then it’s time to look at your other options and decide if more time developing a case and pursuing litigation might be necessary.
Jeremy Smith writes for the McMinn Law Firm in Austin, Texas. He believe mediation is always a better option before going to court.
Photo Credits: Tulane Public Relations
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