Mediation is an alternative to using litigation (going to court) to resolve legal disputes. If you get into a car accident, you may be able to use mediation to resolve any legal disputes you have with the other driver or the insurance company. In mediation, the parties meet with a mediator who helps them discuss the issues and come to an agreement. Mediation usually benefits everyone involved because, compared to going to court, it resolves disputes with confidentially, more quickly, and for less money.
In both mediation and arbitration, an independent third party helps resolve the legal disputes of parties who would otherwise go to court to resolve their conflict. In mediation, the third party helps the parties work though their issues and come to an agreement. If at the end of the mediation, the parties have not come to agreement, the dispute remains unresolved. In contrast, in arbitration, the independent third party hears the issues from each side and can make binding and enforceable decisions, even if the parties involved are still at odds.
To learn more about arbitration with an insurance company, read The Arbitration of Car Accident Claims.
Mediators in car accident cases are usually attorneys or insurance professionals with deep experience handling auto accident claims and disputes. In most cases, the parties agree on whom to hire to mediate the case. If the parties have lawyers, the lawyers will help secure a mediator.
The length of car accident mediations depends on the complexity of the issues, the number of parties, and the willingness of the parties to compromise. If the case is simple and the parties make reasonable attempts to resolve the issues, the mediation may only last a few hours. But if there are several parties or complex issues, or if the parties hold fast to their positions, mediation could last a day or longer. A mediation ends when 1) the parties come to agreement about the dispute, 2) one party refuses to continue, or 3) the parties agree not to continue.
If you can afford to hire one, a lawyer will be a great help to you in mediation. An experienced lawyer will help you understand the legal issues and will be able to assess the strength of your case before you go to mediation. During the mediation itself, the lawyer can act as a coach and advocate, instructing you on when to compromise and to stand your ground. When searching for a lawyer, look for someone experienced with car accident claims in the state -- and ideally the county -- in which the case would be litigated if it were to go to court.
Learn more about The Mediation of Car Accident Claims.