What is the car accident mediation process in California?
If you have been involved in a car accident in California, you know how difficult it can be to quickly settle any litigation case and to move forward. Mediation, otherwise known as alternative dispute resolution, is an informal negotiation process used by parties to settle their disputes. Mediation, unlike arbitration, is not binding on the parties involved. Instead, it is a process that helps the parties communicate and better understand each other’s positions so that they can settle their differences quickly and amicably.
What Is a Mediator?
A car accident mediator is an impartial or neutral third party, such as an attorney, whose job it is to help resolve car accident disputes between parties.
California Mediation Attorney
In California, an attorney who acts as a mediator is often referred to as a California mediation attorney.
Responsibility of a Mediator
The role of a car accident mediator is to help disputing parties (plaintiff and defendant) reach an agreement. But, mediators are not judges and therefore cannot provide legal advice or tell disputing parties what they must do. Although, court judges have found it necessary to order attorneys to mediate their differences in order to avoid taking the matter to court. That is because the court system is overburdened with civil lawsuits, and they understand how invasive a trial can be to injured parties.
The Mediation Process
Generally, the injured party and their attorney, the insurance company and their attorney, and sometimes the party being sued are present during the mediation process. They all meet at a neutral place, such as the mediator’s office, to present any evidence they believe is pertinent in proving their case. Afterwards, the parties are separated and the mediator discusses the strengths and weaknesses each side has in their case.
Having an impartial third party reveal the weaknesses in their cases may be enough for the two sides to get together and solve their dispute amicably. Attorneys sometimes view the mediation process as a mini trial, where each party is able to see what might happen if the case does end up in the hands of a jury. But, if the parties are not able to settle their dispute at the mediation table, the lawsuit can still be scheduled for trial.
Benefits of Mediation
- Cost savings: Mediation is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of a trial. The average mediation session lasts about one day, whereas a trial can last for days or weeks. The cost of going to trial can be prohibitive because of all the additional fees, costs, and expenses involved. Some of them include: court costs; expert witness fees; investigation costs; deposition costs; and administrative expenses.
- Mediation can provide a quick resolution: Mediation can end the lawsuit very quickly, and the injured party can receive their financial settlement within 2-3 weeks. If a trial is necessary, it could take years for an injured party to receive a financial award, if they get one at all. Going to trial doesn’t guarantee an injured party will receive any money. They may receive more, less, or none at all.
- Being part of the solution: The parties involved (plaintiff and defendant) are able to decide the outcome of their own case. There is a certain degree of satisfaction that comes from helping solve your own problems.
- Information disclosed during mediation is confidential: All information discussed during mediation is kept confidential, but Information disclosed during trial is not private. If a case goes to trial, a transcriptionist will document everything being said, and the court will most likely be open to the public. There is very little privacy in an open court.
- Information disclosed in mediation cannot be used at trial: One of the benefits of mediation is that all written and oral information obtained during mediation attempts cannot be used against either party if the case goes to trial. The law encourages people to settle their problems through mediation so that a trial will be unnecessary.
- Mediation doesn’t preclude having a trial: If you go through mediation and it doesn’t result in a settlement, your attorney can still take your personal liability case to trial.
- Reduced stress: If you settle in mediation, you won’t have to endure the stress that a trial often generates.
As you can see, the role of a California mediation attorney is to help personal injury litigants (plaintiff and defendant) reach a settlement agreement. In the case where a person is injured in a car accident in California, the California mediation attorney may try to help by pointing out weak points in each side’s case, and then allow them to decide if the case can be settled or if it needs to be scheduled for trial. M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers are California mediation attorneys. We know how important it can be to settle car accident in California claims.