Sometimes there’s more than one way to fix a problem. Take Johnny L., for instance. His company, AnnistonInsurance Co., was sued recently. His heart sank as he imagined the years of costly litigation ahead. When his attorney suggested mediation, he wanted to hear more about what happens at mediation hearings. If you’ve never been sued, you may be surprised at how mediation works.
Traditional Trials and Hearings
Plaintiffs, defendants, their attorneys, and others are involved in court hearings and trials. It may take months or even years for a lawsuit to make it to the courtroom. Cases that do not settle before trial take their toll in legal fees, time, and stress.
Sometimes you can be heard without incurring the expense of a lengthy court trial.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Arbitration and mediation are often used to settle lawsuits without waiting for a trial. Though the two are different, we will just be looking at mediations. Advantages to mediation include:
- Judges and juries do not resolve your case. The parties to a lawsuit have at some control over the outcome of mediation.
- Mediations may be scheduled, and the case resolved while a court case is just getting started.
- Parties have more flexibility in the process and the outcome.
- Mediations are often “win-win” situations. Both parties usually walk away from the table with a satisfying solution.
But what actually happens at a mediation?
The parties, their attorneys and the mediator meet at a mutually agreed upon time and place. Often, they may meet at the mediator’s office.
The mediation may start with a joint session. The mediator may explain his or her role and clear up any procedural issues. Both parties may make an opening statement in which they talk about the dispute and offer a preliminary solution.
At times during the mediation, the parties may break out into separate meetings. Each party heads off to a separate room to discuss the case with their attorneys.
The mediator will discuss the case with each party. Topics might include strengths and weaknesses of each side.
The parties may negotiate with each other while the mediator plays the role of referee. Mediations may be terminated, rescheduled, or recessed for a time.
At the end of the mediation, the parties may or may not have an agreement. Agreements will be set out in writing and may signed off by the parties at a later date. Cases that don’t resolve may be rescheduled or may continue on to an arbitration or a trial.
Now You Know What Happens at Mediation.
Remember, though, that the mediator does not hand down a decision or order the parties to do anything. However, mediators can help parties reach a resolution that helps everyone.
When you need an attorney, call Bruce Adams. He has the skills and experience to help with your business and estate planning concerns. Please contact us at 256-237-3339 to set up an appointment. Our office is located in Anniston, Alabama, but we assist clients in surrounding communities like Oxford, Jacksonville, Heflin, Gadsden, and Pell City.