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Mediation and Arbitration

Many people believe their personal injury claim will necessitate them going to court, but this fear is largely unfounded. Even when serious accidents occur – and a lot of money is potentially on the line – civil cases do not automatically go before a court to face a judge and jury.  A court case can drag out for months or even years and will prove to be costly for everyone involved. Reaching an agreement outside of court speeds up the process and helps everyone put the situation behind them as soon as possible. Two of the most common ways civil disagreements get resolved are through out-of-court mediation and arbitration.

What Are Mediation and Arbitration?

The court system would be inundated if it litigated every disagreement over compensation or agreement terms, but typically, most claims don’t get that far. More often than not, opposing attorneys can work out a solution that is satisfactory to both parties. However, if negotiations are unsuccessful and a settlement cannot be reached, the court may order mediation or arbitration, and sometimes even both, before putting the case on the docket.

A judge may order mediation or arbitration if they believe the parties can resolve their situation out of court. The judge may also recommend these methods if they feel that the parties have not made a good-faith effort to settle their disagreement before rushing into a courtroom. Sometimes, the court orders these methods to occur multiple times. While mediation and arbitration are similar, their process and outcomes are slightly different.

Mediation – Mediation occurs when a court orders the parties of a lawsuit to put aside their differences and foster good faith communication. A mediator’s job is to promote civil behavior throughout these discussions. Mediation is often recommended when a personal relationship or emotional situation prevents productive dialogue.

Mediators help both sides make their points cogently and describe their cases without accusations or emotions – but these professionals do not make binding decisions regarding the issue. Instead, mediators rely on their expertise in the field to provide opinions on the evidence before them. They will share how a judge or jury might react to the evidence in court and describe how the case would likely be judged if it proceeded to trial.

Should mediation fail, the judge may order a second mediation or proceed with moving the litigation on to trial. The judge might consider any unwillingness to cooperate during a mediation as well.

Arbitration – Arbitration is very similar to mediation. However, arbitrators have the authority to decide, in part or in whole, the case’s outcome at times. Because their decisions often come with legal consequences, arbitrators are commonly retired judges, lawyers, or experts in the field who know the law and the appropriate punishments for certain civil infractions.

Mediation is focused on compromise; arbitration is focused on results. Arbitrators will listen to both sides and ensure everyone expresses their concerns, but at the end of the day, the arbitrator will rule in favor of one side or the other.

Some people consider mediation and arbitration as necessary steps to ultimately getting their case into a courtroom – but that is not the intent of these legal proceedings. These services are provided to help the parties avoid a court battle, offering a cheaper, faster, and less stressful way to resolve the matter. A simple discussion might be all you need to reach a fair settlement and move forward with your life.

It can be challenging for an accident victim to know the most effective route to getting the compensation they deserve. However, you do not need to make that decision on your own. Call Hale Law today to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney regarding your situation for free. Remember, we don’t get paid unless you win.