WHAT IS MEDIATION AND WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER IT IN MY ACCIDENT CLAIM?
In civil claims such as those arising from traffic accidents, many claims settle long before a trial becomes necessary. Settling a case offers a number of benefits to the parties—they remain in control of the outcome and they may save money on court fees. One way that civil claims are frequently settled is through mediation. During mediation, a third-party neutral, called a mediator, works with the parties to create an agreement that addresses all of the issues in the case. Mediation has a high success rate, even in highly contested claims.
Mediation takes place in a low-pressure environment. It does not occur in a courtroom. There are no judges, no court reporters, no jury. Instead, mediation usually takes place in an attorney’s conference room. The parties are present with their attorneys, but the parties are usually kept in separate rooms. The mediator will speak with each party individually and gain an understanding of that party’s goals for the case. Next, the mediator will go back and forth between the parties, telling one party what the other party wants out of the claim. The mediator may also suggest ways for the parties to compromise. The parties are free to accept or reject the mediator’s suggestions and they are also free to reject the other party’s proposals. The parties’ attorneys are available to offer any legal advice that is needed.
Mediation is a confidential process. The mediator cannot be called to testify in court about the discussions in mediation. Therefore, the parties may speak with the mediator as freely as they like—it will not come back to haunt them in a trial. Additionally, one party may tell the mediator something in confidence with instructions not to tell the other party. Perhaps a party wants to explain his position on a matter in the case to the mediator, but does not want the other party to be aware of it.
For especially stubborn parties, mediation is often beneficial. Having a third party with no prior knowledge of the case offer an objective position can be an eye opening experience. Perhaps the party’s “winning argument” is not quite so convincing after all—and once the party is aware of this, that party may be more likely to settle the claim.
If the parties do settle their case, the mediator drafts a memorandum that lays out the agreement and has the parties sign it. This memorandum may then be submitted to the court to finalize the case. If the parties do not settle, they may reattempt mediation at a later date, attempt to negotiate an agreement on their own, or they may have to go to trial.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT, CONTACT STEIN & SHULMAN, LLC
At Stein & Shulman, our Chicago car accident attorneys are experienced in mediation and settlement negotiations. To schedule your free consultation, call 312.422.0500 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.