Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process where a neutral third party, known as the mediator, assists parties in reaching a mutually acceptable settlement. Mediation is often used in Fresno personal injury cases involving workplace accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and premises liability.
While mediation processes can vary, they generally follow a series of steps:
1. Agreeing to Mediate
Both parties must first agree to mediate. This can either happen by a mutual agreement or through a mandatory mediation clause within an existing contract.
2. Choosing a Mediator
The parties will then select a mediator, who will typically have experience in personal injury law or mediation in general. It’s crucial to choose a mediator who is impartial, knowledgeable, and skilled in facilitating negotiations.
3. Pre-Mediation Communications
Prior to the mediation session, mediators often request that both parties submit a mediation statement or brief. This document outlines each party’s perspective on the case and any relevant facts, laws, and arguments. The mediator may also hold separate pre-mediation calls or meetings with each party to discuss concerns and clarify issues.
4. Opening Session
At the beginning of the mediation session, each party’s representative (usually their attorney), alongside the mediator, will gather for the opening session. The mediator will explain the rules, outline the process, and address any questions. Next, each party will give an opening statement presenting their side of the story and outlining their position on the case.
5. Joint and Private Sessions
Following the opening statements, the mediator will encourage a joint discussion between the parties, allowing them to express their opinions and thoughts. The mediator may then move to private sessions, known as caucuses, with each party separately. This allows the mediator to identify each party’s priorities, concerns, and possible settlement options.
6. Negotiation and Settlement
After these sessions, the mediator will shuttle back and forth between the parties, attempting to reach common ground and encourage compromise. If an agreement is reached, the mediator will draw up a settlement document outlining the terms of the agreement, which both parties will sign.
7. Follow-Up (if necessary)
In cases where parties don’t reach an agreement during the mediation session, the mediator may suggest follow-up communications and possibly additional sessions to continue negotiations.
Benefits of Mediation in Personal Injury Cases
There are several benefits to using mediation to resolve personal injury disputes, including:
- Cost-effective: Mediation is less expensive than a traditional court proceeding. This is because the process takes less time and allows both parties to reach a financial settlement without incurring costly legal bills.
- Quicker resolution: Unlike trials which can take several months or even years to resolve, mediation is often a much quicker process. This means that the injured party can potentially receive compensation and closure in a shorter amount of time.
- Confidentiality: The details of the dispute will not become public and can’t be used in court. This can be especially appealing to both parties involved, as the details of personal injury cases can be sensitive or embarrassing:
“No evidence of anything said or any admission made for the purpose of, in the course of, or pursuant to, a mediation or a mediation consultation is admissible or subject to discovery, and disclosure of the evidence shall not be compelled, in any arbitration, administrative adjudication, civil action, or other noncriminal proceeding in which, pursuant to law, testimony can be compelled to be given.”
- Greater control: Mediation allows both parties to have more control over the outcome of the case. At a trial, the decision is ultimately left up to the judge or jury. In mediation, however, the parties work together with the help of a neutral mediator to create a mutually acceptable resolution.
- Preservation of relationships: Personal injury disputes can often strain relationships between the parties involved. Mediation promotes open communication and cooperation, which can significantly reduce tensions and foster a more amicable resolution.
Mediation isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great option to consider. If you need help or have any questions, contact us to schedule a free consultation.