Legal Briefs: What is Mediation?
You’re in a legal dispute. It could be a personal injury, small business, family law, real estate, or breach of contract issue.
But both sides are far apart in trying to resolve it. And no one wants the time, expense, exposure, and stress of a lawsuit or arbitration to resolve the difference.
Fortunately, there’s a third option that is less costly, often shorter, and not as formal. And it also offers both parties more control of the process and usually a more mutually satisfying outcome.
It’s called mediation. Here’s what it is and how it works:
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a non-adversarial method of legal dispute resolution. It is used when both sides seek a compromise that is acceptable to both parties but would prefer to avoid the stuffy courts, combative lawyers, complicated processes, and unpredictable juries.
Mediators facilitate and control the overall flow of the proceedings, but they don’t have the power to force or enforce their opinions or judgments on either side. Their role is to simply steer the two parties toward the best, win/win scenario.
Those who attend a mediation typically include both parties, their attorneys, the mediator, and any others both sides agree on. It is usually held at a neutral site.
How Does Mediation Work?
There are multiple ways to conduct a mediation. The most common steps include:
- Introductions: The mediator allows the involved parties to meet in order to explain the major rules and guidelines of the process.
- Overviews of both parties: The objectives of each side are presented to get an overall perspective of each case. Both parties present their cases without interruption. Mediators can offer possible solutions while they facilitate.
- Joint discussion: The mediator encourages both sides to discuss significant details, works to eliminate distractions and side issues, and gauges the quality of each case and receptivity of both parties to a resolution.
- Private discussion: The mediator meets separately with each side to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each case and to exchange offers. This might take multiple meetings. This is the most significant stage of the mediation.
- Joint negotiation: Occasionally the mediator suggests the parties respond directly to each other’s perspectives to seek a resolution.
- Closure: If the parties reach a solution, the mediator documents it in writing and asks both parties to sign it. If there is no resolution, the mediator might seek more discussion or suggest another dispute resolution method.
Helpful Mediation Mindsets:
In the most effective mediations, the two parties have these attitudes in common:
- They’re both willing to discuss the matter with one another.
- They both participate with an attentive ear to consider alternative solutions.
- They exercise patience with the time and frustration a resolution might take.
- They demonstrate a compromising mindset that seeks benefits for both sides.
- They’re committed to seek a timely and efficient resolution.
Amy Witherite, founder and lead attorney at Witherite Law Group, offers this advice, “Mediation can be an extremely effective way to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation. Car wrecks are often easier to mediate than a commercial truck accident where industry regulations and law can make mediation tricky. Though it’s often a good option, it’s sometimes not the best strategy. That’s why expertise is so important when considering mediation, especially when there is so much at stake.”
The accident attorneys of Witherite Law Group help those who have been injured in a car or truck accident. Get legal help today by calling 1-800-CarWreck® or 1-800-TruckWreck or visiting www.WitheriteLaw.com. We’re available 24/7.