What is Mediation in Law? How does Mediation Work in a Lawsuit?

Mediation lawsuit court alternative dispute resolution

Lawsuit mediation helps you resolve legal issues without going to court

Mediation is a voluntary process in which both parties agree to bring in a neutral third party to oversee the proceedings and help the parties involved work out an agreement. Mediation takes less time, costs less money and is less intensive than taking a lawsuit to court – but can still help you arrive at the settlement you desire.

Nobody ever wants to go to court. We can understand that. A lawsuit is expensive, it’s exhausting, it takes time out of your schedule, and it’s emotionally draining.

No matter the situation or the circumstance, no matter the type of law involved, whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant, we get it – nobody wants to go to court.

It is more beneficial to settle the case before the parties reach a courthouse.

Why you should consider mediation in a personal injury lawsuit

If you can reach an agreement before it ends up in the hands of a judge and jury (as this will just prolong the life of a case, make it more expensive and keep everyone inside a gloomy courthouse for a while), that would be best for all parties involved.

This is why it is so important to resolve legal issues without going to court – if at all possible.

While not always a choice, if the two parties can bring in an outside, impartial individual known as a mediator, there is a greater chance at settling outside of court, allowing everyone associated with the legal proceedings to move on with their lives.

What is mediation in law?

Mediation is a voluntary process in which both parties agree to bring in a neutral third party to oversee the proceedings and help the parties involved work out an agreement.

A mediator is usually a retired judge or attorney who serves within a network of mediators and has been assigned to your particular case.

This method only generally works if the parties are attempting to reach some sort of a settlement, but are having trouble hashing out the details. When the parties refuse to meet with one another, a mediator is probably not going to work very well and the case might still have to go in front of the court.

Enjuris tip: What is the difference between a settlement, award or judgment? It comes down to whether you go to court or settle your lawsuit outside of court.

The mediator isn't someone who imposes any sort of decision or resolution. Instead, the mediator’s goal is to bring the parties to a common ground.

Basically, the mediator is an observer and manager of a joint meeting.

If you go to trial, it significantly reduces the amount of interaction two individuals have with one another.

The mediation process is different in that it allows each party to talk to one another. It is best if it stays civil. If not, the mediation breaks down and the situation has to go to trial. 

How does mediation work in a lawsuit?

Here’s the mediation process and how it works:

  • The joint session will typically take place first. The first step is introductions and opening remarks.

  • Each party is going to say something to the other in order to get the ball rolling. Usually the two parties take turns stating their respective problems.

  • The mediator will listen to both sides during this part, as the problems will obviously be connected (e.g., a husband and wife must assets during a divorce, and they are attempting to divide their extensive Beanie Baby™ collection under the mediator’s watchful eye).

  • Then they might split for what are referred to as separate “caucuses,” and the mediator will go from one to the other and relay offers, messages, demands, questions and counter-offers.

  • Once each side’s reasoning has been identified and the core issues have been laid bare, the mediator can say, “All right, look, we can do X, Y and Z. How about it?” and the parties can agree or disagree.
Enjuris tip: Alternative dispute resolution is great, but did you know that suggestions from a mediator are non-binding?

However, whatever the mediator suggests is non-binding and cannot compel the parties to agree to any directives. If they do not like what the mediator comes up with, they will have to either try arbitration, which is another form of alternative dispute resolution, or stick with their original court date.

Choosing to pursue mediation requires careful thought and consultation. It’s advisable that you consult with a personal injury attorney before agreeing to mediation.

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