Mediation: A Way to Avoid the Courthouse
As our court dockets continue to become more and more congested, the judicial system in this country has had to look for ways to resolve cases before they reach the level of jury participation. Litigation is extremely expensive and time consuming, causing an amazing number of hours to be expended, not only by the attorneys and parties involved, but also by the judges, court personnel, witnesses, experts, etc.
As an adjunct to the court system, mediation, both mandatory and voluntary, was instituted. Mediation is a process whereby all sides agree to an attorney-mediator whose function is to gather the parties together with the intention of settling the case or resolving all the issues, therefore, alleviating the necessity of the case proceeding to trial.
Mediation almost always begins with all the attorneys and parties in one room. The mediator then explains to everyone present that mediation is a confidential proceeding and that a mediator is not permitted to disclose certain information told in confidence by one party or the other, unless granted permission to do so. A mediator can never decide a case or force a party to settle. A mediator’s sole objective and responsibility is to help facilitate a full settlement or resolution of the case by acting as an intermediary between the two sides.
After the mediator gives their opening remarks, the plaintiff’s counsel is then asked to present his client’s position, emphasizing the strong points of the case. The defense counsel then responds with their position, many times bringing out the weaknesses in the plaintiff’s presentation. After both sides have completed their respective statements, the mediator may have questions for one or both sides to help clarify any issues in the case.
Following the party’s case presentations, the counsel for the plaintiff and defendant go to separate rooms to confirm and remain with their clients. The mediator then begins the actual mediation process, whereby he goes from room to room, generating monetary offers and counteroffers, as well as disclosing new information that may have not been presented during the initial opening statements.
The process may sound simple, but differences of opinion dominate the proceedings. There is always a great disparity in the amount of money the plaintiff feels they deserve as just compensation and what the defendant believes is fair. It is the job of the mediator to somehow convince each side to compromise their position to a new point where they are within “striking distance”, and the mediator is eventually able to effectuate a settlement. Mediations can take a day, several days and sometimes much longer. Some cases may even require multiple mediations.
It has been said that a successful mediation is one where the plaintiff is not satisfied because he or she did not receive as much compensation as they felt they deserved, while the defendant is not satisfied because they felt they paid too much.
Each case presents with difference facts and circumstances. This is why it is important to talk to an attorney immediately after being injured. Call us at (941) 748-5599 or contact us via email at email@example.com. We serve clients in Bradenton, Parrish, Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, and elsewhere in Southwest Florida.