Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Both parties work with a mediator who will make a recommendation regarding the settlement of the case. Mediation is one of the mechanisms in place in the American legal system to promote the settlement of legal claims.
If you get into a car accident, your legal claim does not have to end up in front of a jury. Instead, mediation is encouraged to help bring an end to a dispute without further litigation. It can save time and money which is often factored into the negotiation process; a car accident lawyer in Atlanta can help with this process.
The Mediation Process in Accident Cases
Mediation is a voluntary process that the parties agree to participate in to promote settlement. Approximately ninety-five percent of all civil lawsuits settle before trial. Only a small percentage of all civil cases go to trial; mediation is therefore one of the primary ways civil lawsuits are resolved before trial.
The parties choose to work with a mediator; a mediator is typically a former judge or lawyer who is trained to conduct mediation proceedings. Both parties will spend time speaking with the mediator, and the mediator will go back and forth while attempting to help the parties reach a settlement.
During the mediation process, each party will present their theory of the case, and an injured victim will be able to set forth evidence regarding the nature and extent of their injuries. Injured victims often have both general damages and special damages. Essentially, general damages are non-quantifiable and special damages are quantifiable.
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Mediation Is Non-Binding
Mediation is not legally binding; unlike arbitration, mediation is more flexible, and both parties can spend time negotiating during mediation proceedings without worrying about being bound by an arbitrator’s decision. Many attorneys and clients take advantage of this aspect of mediation to discover what the other side will be willing to pay to settle a case.
During a mediation, one party will set forth a value they believe constitutes a reasonable settlement amount; the mediator will then speak with the other party and then come back to the first party with a settlement offer. The parties each communicate their counteroffers to the mediator until a settlement agreement is or is not accepted by both parties. Not all mediation proceedings end in a settlement agreement.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You During Mediation Proceedings
Mediation proceedings are not as formal as a trial, but they are still organized and structured. A personal injury lawyer can help you with the following aspects of a mediation proceeding:
- A personal injury lawyer will advocate for your legal interests.
- A personal injury lawyer can help you understand how the mediation proceeding develops.
- You will have a greater chance of settling your case if you retain a personal injury lawyer.
- You will have a comprehensive understanding of all your legal options if you retain a personal injury lawyer.
- You will be prepared by your personal injury lawyer for the mediation.
- A personal injury lawyer will advocate for you during the mediation proceeding.
You can benefit from having a personal injury lawyer prepare you for the mediation; both parties can work with the mediator to reach a settlement, which is essentially a compromise. Each party will present a value or amount to the mediator and each side will then present a counteroffer to the mediator. Sometimes mediation proceedings can last several hours; the majority of mediation proceedings last three to five hours.
What Happens After Mediation Proceedings
Mediation is not legally binding on the parties involved in the mediation; a mediator may suggest that both parties should agree to a settlement, but the mediator cannot force any party to settle the case. Both parties must agree to a settlement agreement during mediation; if both parties do not agree to a settlement agreement, then the case may proceed to arbitration or trial.
If your personal injury case proceeds to trial, each party will deliver statements, offer evidence, and examine witnesses. The attorneys for both parties will scrutinize both theories of the case. A judge or jury will have the final word on liability and damages.
Injured victims can put themselves at risk of not recovering any damages by going to trial. Only a small percentage of civil lawsuits go to trial. Your case may go to arbitration, and in some instances arbitration is binding; a final decision made by an arbitrator during binding arbitration is non-appealable.
Settlement and Mediation
Mediation is entirely voluntary, and no party can be forced to participate in mediation proceedings. Both parties typically request mediation to promote settlement of the case. Both parties must agree to a settlement agreement if the case is to settle through mediation.
Mediation is confidential, and nothing either party communicates during mediation can be used at later stages of the case. This protects the parties and allows them to feel comfortable sharing information and legal theories with each other. It is possible for a case to settle during mediation, but both parties must agree to the settlement amount.
All Mediation Proceedings Are Not the Same
Every car accident case is unique because the facts and circumstances of each case are not identical to any other case; therefore, every mediation is unique. It is impossible to determine the likelihood of any car accident case settling during mediation. In some cases, a mediation proceeding may be more productive because liability is clearly established.
Also, the demeanor and character of the attorneys representing the clients can affect the mediation proceedings. Some attorneys will push and fight for a low settlement amount. The mediator may be less experienced or more experienced depending on how many years they have acted as mediators in car accident cases.
Contact John Foy & Associates Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
Contact John Foy & Associates today to schedule a free consultation regarding your car accident case. If you suffered injuries during a car accident, then you are likely dealing with financial insecurity, unpaid medical bills, and psychological distress. You have the right to seek financial compensation for your injuries.
We have decades of experience representing clients in car accident cases. Reach out today to speak to a car accident lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.