Even when you think you’ve done everything right, sometimes disputes and lawsuits come up. Settling them in court can be long, messy, and expensive. If you’re facing the prospect of litigation, you may wonder if your case is appropriate for mediation. If you’re looking for alternatives to settling your case out of court, here’s an overview of legal mediation to help you move forward.

What is Mediation?

Legal mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where the parties to a lawsuit meet with a neutral third-party, called a mediator, to settle the case out of court. The mediator listens to the evidence from both parties, assists the parties in understanding each other’s viewpoints in the cases, and facilitates the negotiation of a voluntary resolution. Mediation is designed to settle a case early in the process rather than spending time and expense on litigation and court costs. 

Mediation differs from other ADRs as it is not a binding resolution. The role of the mediator is not to make a ruling or reach a decision; it is to help the parties reach a mutually agreed-upon decision. Mediation does not guarantee a resolution to the case, and in some instances, it doesn’t bring the parties any closer to reaching a settlement. 

However, when the mediation process is successful, it can save the involved parties time and money. Litigation for taking a personal injury case to trial can cost upwards of $100,000. Mediation offers a very real chance that the case will be resolved quickly for less expense, approximately $200/hour for the cost of the mediator. 

Is My Case Appropriate for Mediation?

The best cases for mediation are those where both parties are unlikely to come to a resolution on their own, but there is a potential for settlement. There is no reason to involve a mediator if both parties and their attorneys can reach a settlement.  The types of cases that are good candidates for mediation include but are not limited to breach of contract disputes, wrongful termination claims, and family law issues. Cases prosecuted by the government such as bankruptcy, immigration and deportation issues, disability appeals, DUI charges, and criminal charges are not appropriate for mediation. 

How Do I Choose a Mediator?

The right mediator for your case will be a legal professional who is well-versed in your type of case. When choosing your mediator, search for a practicing or retired attorney experienced with similar disputes or reach out to your local state bar association to find a qualified mediator. Keep in mind that successful trial attorneys tend to be aggressive to achieve a resolution, while successful mediators are skilled in helping attorneys (and conflicting parties) calm down and reach an agreement. 

What Can I Expect During Mediation?

Compared to a court proceeding, mediation is informal. The pirates and their counsel meet with the mediator in a conference room at the mediator’s office. The process of mediation goes through the following stages:

  • Introduction: The mediator gives an opening statement which includes an overview of his/her training and experience, ethics check, and collecting the names of the parties and their attorneys. Simple rules of conduct are also outlined, including the use of common courtesy and allowing each party to complete their statements without interruption. Any information presented in mediation is confidential unless discoverable in court. At this time, the mediator encourages the parties to put forth a good faith effort to reach a settlement. 
  • Problem Determination: Each party will present their side of the case, including an account of the facts and circumstances leading to the dispute. Depending on the case and decision of the parties involved, this can be done jointly or in a separate room. After listening to each party’s viewpoint, the mediator offers thoughts on the case, identifying and summarizing any issues brought forth. 
  • Generation of Options: The mediator works with the information provided to identify any areas of settlement. The mediator may encourage settlement options by summarizing the private meeting results from each party. Negotiations and discussions will continue unless the mediation declares the case is at a standstill and no reasonable agreement can be facilitated, or hopefully, a resolution is reached.
  • Agreement Writing: Any settlement agreement with subsequent terms will be written by the parties involved. If attorneys are present, the document is able to be reviewed and signed at that time. If not, the parties may wait to have the document reviewed then signed at a later date. 

At Hudgins Law Firm, our sole responsibility is to YOU. You deserve legal representation who understands your hardship and will fight for the compensation you’re entitled to following a personal injury case. With more than 35 years of experience serving the greater Tampa area, we understand the importance of building relationships with our clients. To set up a FREE consultation, call us toll-free at 800-950-5534, or complete our contact form.

Sources:
https://www.americanbar.org/gr... https://www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Alternative-Dispute-Resolution/Mediation-in-Florida
 https://corporate.findlaw.com/litigation-disputes/what-is-mediation-and-how-does-it-work.html