What Is Mediation?
While we often hear about high-profile, dramatic trials, many cases don’t actually go to trial. Instead, many cases settle through mediation.
What is mediation?
Mediation is defined as “a settlement of a dispute or controversy by setting up an independent person between two contending parties to aid them in the settlement of the disagreement.” For a non-legal example, imagine you and a good friend are in an argument. To settle things, you might ask an unbiased person to listen to both sides of the story. Since they don’t have enough bias to immediately side with either person, they can hear complaints from both of you, and suggest a reasonable way to settle the argument. For legal disputes, the concept is very similar.
What happens during mediation?
During mediation, the independent person (simply called the mediator) will make an opening statement, in which they address the goals of the mediation. Then, each party will get the chance to make a statement. This is their opportunity to describe their perception of the dispute. While one person is talking, the other is not allowed to interrupt. Hostility and a lack of cooperation will not lead to a successful resolution. After each party has discussed their personal issues, both parties and the mediator will engage in conversation about how to proceed. The parties may each meet individually with the mediator as well, in meetings called private caucuses.
At the end of the mediation, hopefully the dispute has been settled! If both parties come to an agreement, they will sign a written document that states the settlement reached during the mediation. If the issues are not resolved through mediation, the parties can take the case to court.
Typically, a case is resolved through a day-long mediation. Other times, mediation lasts for weeks. For each party that is involved in mediation, at least an hour is added to the amount of time it will take to reach a resolution. Even though mediations can prevent a case from going to court, that doesn’t mean that are they simple!
If you have an attorney working on your case, mediation is still an option. An attorney can help find a qualified and professional mediator, and can help you write your statements for the mediation. They can also help determine if a settlement is fair, although ultimately, the decision is up to you.
Mediations can be beneficial for people who:
- Need to maintain a relationship with the other party. This might be necessary when the other party is a family member, landlord, or business partner. In many instances, lawsuits can have a negative impact on personal relationships with the other party
- Want to retain some of their privacy. Generally, any statements revealed during mediation cannot be legally revealed outside of the mediation. If you go to trial, information may become public.
When it comes to legal disputes, things are rarely easy or relaxing. But mediations do relieve some of the stress of bringing a case to court.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.