In the past, when two parties had a dispute, their only recourse was to take an adversarial approach in court. Now, alternative dispute resolution options, including mediation, are increasingly popular for helping parties resolve their issues. This is because mediation is often less time-consuming and expensive than waging an all-out court battle. It enables parties to reach an agreement on their own terms with the assistance of a neutral, third-party mediator.
Mediation may be court-ordered, required as part of an insurance contract, or agreed to by both parties.
What the mediation process looks like
Mediation hearings are typically scheduled weeks or even months in advance. This provides each side with time to prepare their case. For the person making a claim, this means preparing the case for presentation. For the insurance provider, this means taking a close look at the case and determining the settlement limit, if any, they are prepared to offer. This process can be especially lengthy for large-value claims.
A mediation may take place at any time, even after the filing of a lawsuit. Both parties must agree to the choice of mediator. The mediator will then listen to the presentation of both sides. Plaintiffs and defendants do not have to speak. Mediation is not a trial or deposition. You will not have to worry about having to answer a barrage of questions.
Mediation discussions are typically confidential. The mediator’s ruling is not binding. The parties can choose to accept the mediator’s recommendation or attempt to reach an agreement independently. If it appears that an agreement cannot be reached, other legal options for resolving the dispute may be explored.