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Understanding Mediation

Civil cases brought to trial can cost tens of thousands – sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars and draw out the time it takes to receive compensation. These days, most civil cases go to mediation voluntarily, by local rule, or under discretionary court order in an attempt to avoid lengthy, cost-prohibitive litigation. Statistics show an 85 percent success rate for most tort type or personal injury cases that proceed in mediation. This form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can achieve an amicable consensus among affected parties and open access to justice for those who find trial costs restrictive.

What is mediation?

Mediation is an informal negotiation process involving the plaintiff and defense lawyers, their clients, and a mediator- generally, a lawyer or retired judge certified in ADR. The ultimate goal of negotiations is to achieve a settlement agreed upon by both parties in the hopes of avoiding trial. Unlike in arbitration, mediators do not make binding formal judgments, allowing litigants a choice to walk away without reaching a settlement.

What happens at mediation?

The informal proceedings can take hours to days, but generally follows a similar process. Usually, the parties are divide into separate rooms with their lawyers where the mediator will move between, offering his/her thoughts and listening to arguments privately. Mediators often provide clarity, assistance in finding reasonable resolutions, and an evaluation of each position’s case for strengths and weaknesses.

What are the benefits of mediation?

The cost-savings alone are well worth settling out of court. Trial expenses vary widely depending on civil case type, extent of injuries, pain and suffering, lawyer experience, and time. According to data collected by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), trials can be a complex and time-intensive undertaking, composing one-third to one-half of total litigation procedures (i.e. initiation, discovery, settlement, pretrial, trial, and post-disposition). Among other case types, the NCSC Court Statistics Project found the total costs of medical malpractice suits can reach upward of $143,000, while personal injury suits involving automobiles can cost nearly $43,000.

Mediation provides other benefits, including:

  • Greater confidentiality
  • A voice in the proceedings
  • The ability to speak freely without fear of weakening your position
  • The ability to make your own decisions
  • A less constrictive atmosphere by excluding special legal procedures

Most civil cases, such as personal injury suits involving wrongful death, automobiles, or slip and falls, can be resolved during mediation. It is important to note, however, that once a Release has been signed at a mediation, the settlement is final. This is why it is vital to acquire the services of a lawyer experienced in dealing with your particular case type to guide you through the Release’s legal jargon. If you’d like to expedite your personal injury settlement, give Crane Flores, LLP a call anytime, day or night, at (805) 628-4967.