What Can I Expect at Mediation?
Mediation is a confidential process typically utilized after a lawsuit is filed, and in limited circumstances, before a lawsuit is filed. Parties may be ordered to go to mediation by the judge in their case, or they may decide to go voluntarily. The mediator is usually selected by the parties but, if they are unable to come to an agreement, a judge will choose a mediator for the parties.
A mediator is an unbiased, neutral third-party whose goal is to facilitate communication between the parties in order to help the parties reach a settlement. During mediation, the two or more parties with their respective attorneys will meet with the mediator in hopes of resolving the dispute and pending lawsuit.
Mediation typically starts with everyone in the same room together and each side presents an opening statement describing their view on the case with their strengths and the other side’s weaknesses. The opening statements give the other party and the mediator an idea of what may be argued if the case was to go to trial.
After opening statements, each party and their attorney go into separate rooms to discuss their case and settlement position in a process called caucus. The mediator travels back and forth relaying settlement offers and arguments from the other party, and conveying specific settlement terms. If the parties are able to resolve any issues of their case, the mediator will prepare a short settlement agreement outlining the general terms of the settlement which the parties and their attorneys review and sign. It is possible for parties to settle all or part of their claim at mediation.
Due to the confidential nature, anything stated or any terms offered during mediation cannot be mentioned outside of the mediation process unless agreed upon in writing by both parties. This means that settlement offers made during mediation, but not entirely agreed to, cannot be brought up at court or in front of a judge. It also means that any discussions during mediation cannot be mentioned to parties or people not involved in the mediation process, such as family members.
Mediation can be a very useful process when two or more parties are in a dispute. It is often a less expensive way to resolve claims and cases than going to trial. Any attorney you choose to handle your claim should be well versed in settlement negotiations and the mediation process.
Please contact DSK Law for any further assistance.