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What is The Car Accident Mediation Process?

February 15, 2023 Car Accidents

After a car accident, mediation is often used as a form of alternative dispute resolution when settlement negotiations fail rather than going to court. Here is how the process typically goes. 

Selecting a Mediator 

Throughout the mediation, the parties meet with a neutral third party known as a “mediator,” who will assist them in finding common ground in an attempt to resolve the case. Car accident mediators are often retired judges or lawyers who regularly work on these types of cases. However, selecting one should take careful consideration to ensure the right mediator is chosen for the case since they will play a critical role in identifying issues, discussing the consequences of decisions, and guiding the parties to agreements. 

Before Mediation

Before mediation begins, both parties may have to prepare a brief that contains their arguments and settlement demands. The mediator and the parties will review the briefs at mediation. 

During Mediation

The parties will meet in a controlled setting, and the mediator will give an opening statement outlining each person’s role, explaining the ground rules, and setting a time frame. Each party can then give a statement telling their side of the story and settlement demands. The mediator may then ask each party to respond to the other’s statement to engage in a joint discussion, or the mediator will hold private caucuses (sessions) in separate rooms. The mediator will typically go back and forth between the two rooms with their best settlement offer and why they believe it is fair and reasonable. If the parties cannot meet halfway and each side’s terms are too far apart, the mediator will suggest that the parties come up with a new proposal or proceed with the lawsuit. 

After Mediation 

The parties will be brought back together if a settlement is reached. The terms will be prepared in an enforceable written agreement that the parties must sign. After that, it will take about four to six weeks for a plaintiff (victim) to receive a check. If mediation fails, you and your attorney may choose to proceed with the car accident lawsuit. However, that does not necessarily mean you will have to go to court. As the trial date gets closer, it often provides enough motivation for a defendant (at-fault party) to reconsider and negotiate a fair settlement. 

How Long Does Mediation Last?

A single mediation session is typically between one to three hours. However, some take an entire day, or multiple sessions are held on different days. 

The Benefits of Mediation

Mediation gives parties the power to determine the terms of a settlement rather than leaving it up to the court or a jury. The many other benefits include: 

  • Significantly reduces costs and helps the case resolve more quickly. 
  • Spares you the stress and frustration of going to court.
  • Discussions within mediation are confidential, meaning there will be no public record. 
  • The meetings are voluntary and convenient for busy work schedules. 
  • Skilled support that works to preserve communication and find resolutions between parties. 

For more information on mediation and whether it is an option in your car accident case, speak to a San Diego car accident lawyer today.