In today’s column I’ll describe mediation. In future columns I’ll talk about arbitration and jury trials.
Mediation is a formal process of negotiating with the help of a neutral third party, often a former judge, experienced attorney or specially trained professional. The mediator listens to all sides, asks questions, offers suggestions for solutions and helps the parties arrive at a settlement.
Mediation can be done in a joint meeting between you and your attorney, the insurance company representative and the mediator. More often, you and your attorney will be in one room, the insurance company representative will be in another, and the mediator will shuttle between the two rooms. The discussions the mediator holds with both sides are private and are protected from the other side. That way, the parties feel free to confide in the mediator about the strengths and weaknesses of their cases and to discuss information not raised in a joint session.
At the end of mediation, the insurance company may agree to offer a fair amount or accept an amount we offer, and both parties will sign a document agreeing to the results. However, if one party or the other is not satisfied with the outcome of the mediation, the agreement is not binding and both parties can go back to the drawing board.
Mediators can take the heat out of discussions between two opposing sides and bring a disinterested point of view to settlement negotiations. It’s almost always better to settle a personal injury case without going to trial, and often the compensation you receive is the same or better than what you would get at trial – if a fickle jury awards you anything at all. For that reason, mediation can be useful.
Denver Attorney, Denver Lawyer, Dianne Sawaya