When you bring a personal injury claim, there’s a good chance that the court is going to ask you to attend a mediation session. A mediation session requires the parties to the case to meet with the help of a trained facilitator. The parties explore possibilities for reaching a voluntary agreement to resolve the case.
What Is Mediation?
According to Nevada’s Alternative Dispute Resolution rules, mediation is a process where a neutral third person encourages and facilitates the resolution of a legal dispute.
In a mediation session, an unbiased person who’s not involved in the case works with both parties to try to find common ground. They try to help the parties agree to resolve the case on terms they create.
Mediation has the following characteristics:
- Informal: There are no court rules or rules of evidence that apply
- Non-adversarial: The mediator doesn’t pick a winner, and there’s no cross-examination
- Agreements must be mutually acceptable: Neither the court nor the mediator can force the parties to agree to a settlement
- Flexible: With some limitations, the parties can get creative about their settlement agreement
- Binding: When you reach an agreement and sign it, it’s enforceable in court
Mediation is one kind of alternative dispute resolution. Other types of alternative dispute resolution include arbitration and settlement conferences. The purpose of alternative dispute resolution is to help the parties reach a resolution that’s acceptable to them, to resolve the case faster than it might resolve by waiting for a trial, and to preserve legal resources.
What’s the Mediation Process?
The parties schedule mediation at a mutually convenient time and place. Mediation might take place at the offices of one of the attorneys or the mediator, at the courthouse, or at another conference space. The parties and their attorneys pick a time and place that works for everyone.
You arrive on mediation day. The session starts with the mediator reviewing the rules for mediation. These rules include not speaking over others or arguing. They involve giving both parties the time to talk. You may also need to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Typically, the mediator turns to the plaintiff to make an opening statement. The plaintiff starts by stating what happened and why they have a personal injury claim. If you’re not comfortable doing this, your lawyer can speak for you. Don’t worry, nothing you say at mediation is admissible in court. The other side can state a response to your statement. If you’re not comfortable facing the other party, the mediator might conduct the mediation from separate rooms.
After opening statements, the mediator takes it from there. They may begin by asking you what you want to see in a settlement. Your attorney can help you make sure that your proposal is appropriate. Then, they approach the other side to see if your proposal is acceptable. The mediator continues to work back and forth to see if there’s a common ground that can resolve the case.
What Happens After Mediation?
If you resolve the case at mediation, you draft a settlement and sign it the same day. The agreement is enforceable. There’s paperwork to do to close out the case. You may need to type the agreement up officially for the court to sign it an enter it into the court record.
However, when you reach an agreement at mediation, you can breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to collecting your judgment. If you don’t reach an agreement at mediation, the case stays on track for trial.
Can My Lawyer Come With Me?
Your lawyer always comes with you to mediation. They’re there to use their expertise to guide you through the process to make it useful. The mediator, the parties, and their lawyers are typically the people present at the mediation.
How Can I Prepare for Mediation?
Spending some time preparing for your mediation session can give you the best chance of success. Ask your attorney if there’s any information that you need to gather ahead of time. You should also make a list of absolutes for your mediation session as well as things that you may be able to be more flexible about to resolve the claim.
By your mediation date, you and your attorney should have spent significant time building your case. You should have a relative idea of the value of your claim. Armed with that information, you can arrive at mediation with a rough idea of what you’re looking for.
Does Mediation Work?
Mediation is a helpful tool for resolving a case. It’s true that many cases resolve with the help of mediation that wouldn’t have been resolved if the parties were left to work directly with each other to discuss settlement of the case. It’s essential to approach mediation with an open mind.
However, it’s important to remember that mediation is only one part of your case. When you’re hurt in a personal injury, you have a right to access the Nevada courts to achieve justice. When the other party doesn’t want to accept the facts of the case or they’re not willing to consider a fair settlement, it’s not appropriate to put all of your hopes on mediation. Your injury attorney can help you determine whether to settle the case at mediation or take it to trial.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
When you have a personal injury claim, an attorney helps you make the most of your mediation session. They also help you protect your rights during mediation. Their training and expertise can help you spot things that you should avoid in your final judgment.
They can also tell you what things have worked in other cases that you may want to include during your mediation session. With your attorney by your side at mediation, they can help you determine whether a settlement offer is in your best interests. Ultimately, your personal injury attorney can assist you in achieving the best possible results in your case.