Mediation – Another Way to Solve Disputes

November 7, 2012

Misc. Topics

mediation in Ohio personal injury caseThe phrase, “See you in court” may not ring true these days as more than 95 percent of all cases filed in the United States never go to trial, according to the Ohio State Bar Association.  Some of these cases are dismissed and others are withdrawn, but an increasing number are  “mediated,” including many personal injury cases.

In mediation, an independent, specially-trained person (often a court employee, former attorney, former judge, or private professional) skilled in conflict resolution, attempts to settle the dispute between the two parties.  Both sides must agree to the mediation (unless it is court-ordered which is generally not the case in Ohio personal injury cases), and they must also agree on a mediator.

If there is an insurance company involved in the dispute, the company’s adjuster will generally be present along with the plaintiff and the defendant.  Mediation provides a chance for the adjuster to hear from an unbiased party why the case may be worth more than the adjuster has been offering.

Mediation sessions are conducted in a confidential, informal setting.  Each side initially has the opportunity to give a brief synopsis of the facts of the case as their party views them.  Then, the mediator separates the opposing sides and goes back and forth between them attempting to negotiate a settlement.

The mediator works like a diplomat pointing out the strong and weak points of the respective cases, projecting how the case may be resolved if it were to go to trial and giving an opinion of the possible costs of continuing the case.  If participants are able to reach an agreement after a few or several sessions, they sign a written settlement document which is an enforceable contract.

Mediators do not make decisions for the conflicting parties, and do not recommend any terms of the agreement or provide legal advice.  They can explain legal terms if there is no one else present who is qualified to do so.

In mediation, one may bring documents to a session if they further explain, update or clarify a factual situation, but, in general, there is no need for witnesses, testimony, exhibits, experts, objections, cross examinations or arguments.

What if the dispute is not settled in mediation?

Of course, you may agree to negotiate further.  Sometimes legal questions may need to be resolved by the judge before the parties may proceed.  It is also quite possible the case may go to trial.  This does not mean the parties cannot agree to mediate in the future before a verdict is rendered in the case.

In summary, mediation can have the following advantages:

  • It can protect your privacy unlike a courtroom proceeding which is open to the public.  If the mediation does not succeed, neither the mediator or participants can testify in court about what happened in the mediation process.
  • Parties involved make the decisions about the case, not the judge, jury or an arbitrator.
  • The uncertainty of a long, drawn out lawsuit, a trial and possible appeals that could change a favorable outcome are eliminated.
  • Costs are almost always lower and if you settle your case at mediation, the insurance company’s check will usually be received in two to three weeks.

An experienced Ohio personal injury attorney will be able to advise you if a settlement is reasonable in your case.   If you do not know the reputation of the attorney or the firm, ask him or her if he actually goes to trial for clients and what recent jury verdicts he or she has obtained in similar Ohio personal injury cases.

At Slater & Zurz LLP, we have an impressive list of settlements and verdicts and would be happy to talk with you about the best approach in your situation.  Please call us at 1-888-534-4850 for a free consultation or fill out a FREE CASE REVIEW form located on the right hand side of our website, slaterzurz.com.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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