Filing a personal injury claim can be a stressful and drawn-out process. Fortunately, there are ways to resolve your claim more quickly while still getting what you deserve. The most common method is mediation. Mediation skips the dispute part of the process and instead focuses on finding a fair resolution for all parties. The following guide can help you decide if this the right option for your case.
The Basic Process
The parties involved in the suit will have a meeting, or series of meetings, with a mediator. The mediator is a neutral third party trained in conflict resolution. You can bring your legal counsel with you to these mediation meetings. This is actually advised, just to ensure you understand everything that you are agreeing upon. The other side may also have legal representation, or they may bring along an insurance representative, depending on the nature of the case.
Order of Events
These can vary slightly depending on the mediator, but generally each party gets to speak their peace to the mediator in private and in front of the other party. This helps ensure that the full and factual story is told from both sides. Both you and the other party will also get a chance to speak directly with each other, but it will be carefully managed by the mediator to ensure it remains productive. The mediator will then use the information they have gathered to help guide both parties to an amicable agreement.
Payment for Mediators
Using a mediator isn't free. You will be informed of the fee at the outset, and it is generally split between the parties involved in the personal injury dispute. This means that if you are awarded a personal injury settlement, your half of the mediation fee, along with your legal fees, will be taken from the settlement before final payment is made to you.
In the Event Mediation Fails
If you are unable to reach an agreement, you still have the option of going to court. Nothing that was said in mediation can be used against you during any later court proceedings. By the same token, you cannot use anything the other party said against them. The mediator will still require payment, which will now need to be made out of pocket if an agreement cannot be reached for a future settlement. Your lawyer will help you proceed with the the proper protocols for ending mediation and resuming legal proceedings.