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What is a mediation?


A mediation is an informal process to help two disputing parties reach a quicker and cheaper resolution to their dispute. 


An independent third-party – a mediator – listens each party’s case, and identifies the obstacles that have prevented the dispute from resolving.  The mediator attempts to help the parties overcome these obstacles to reach a compromised agreement on a final settlement or resolution to the case. 


The mediator cannot force any party to settle their case.

What happens during mediation?


During a mediation, the parties and mediator usually begin by meeting in one room, together.  Each side is given the option to provide an opening statement to summarize the facts and evidence as well as the reasons for justifying their position. 


The parties then retreat to their own separate rooms where the mediator visits, individually.  The parties exchange offers and counteroffers with help from the mediator until they settle the case or, alternatively, reach an impasse.

What are the advantages of mediation?


There are several advantages to mediation.  The mediator is usually an experienced and trusted attorney that all parties respect. 


Mediation lacks the formality and costs in time and resources of a formal trial. 


Scheduling a mediation is much easier to do than trial, it is much shorter than trial, and it does not have the complex rules and processes required by trial. 


Finally, parties usually participate in mediation by agreement, so each party is more committed to compromise, and there is a higher likelihood of success.

Who selects the mediator?


Unless the court orders the parties to use a specific mediator, which happens occasionally, the parties and their counsel negotiate and select a mediator together.

Who represents the defendant at mediation?


The defendant is represented by his attorney at the mediation.  In addition, it is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to personally attend the mediation as well.  


The defense attorney can only settle the case when he receives authorization from the insurance adjuster.  For this reason, it’s important to make a good impression on the insurance adjuster.

Can you bring evidence to mediation?


You can bring evidence to mediation, but mediation is not trial, so there is not a requirement to present evidence. 


If a case reaches mediation, the parties are already aware of the evidence available.  Most likely, the attorneys have already provided the mediator a position statement summarizing the evidence in advance of the mediation as well.

What happens if mediation is unsuccessful?


If mediation is unsuccessful, the parties simply resume the civil case through the court system.  There is no penalty if the parties fail to reach a compromised settlement at mediation.

How much does it cost to hire a mediator?


The costs of mediation vary depending on the mediator as well as the complexities and value of the case.  Typically, a mediator charges between $200 - $500 dollars an hour as well as administrative and meal costs.  Some mediators charge full and half day rates as well.

Who pays for a mediation?


The parties usually share the costs of mediation equally.  In rarer circumstances, one party can agree to pay the entire cost as part of a mediated agreement.

How long does mediation take?


A mediation can last anywhere from two hours to a full day.

Is it better to mediate or to go to trial?


It is almost always advisable to try and settle the case through mediation before trial. 


Trials carry no guarantees of favorable resolution.  They are complex, expensive, and can last for several days.  In most cases, reaching a compromised settlement between the parties is achievable and desirable, and it should be pursued through mediation, if possible.

Do I need to bring a lunch to mediation?


Generally, the mediator and his office provide food and beverages, including snacks and meals.  These expenses are usually built in to the cost of mediation.

How should I dress for mediation?


You should dress to be comfortable, as mediation can lost for several hours or even the whole day.  Usually, this means dressing semi-formally in order to make a favorable impression on the mediator as well as the insurance adjuster representing the defendant.


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