Atlanta Car Accident Mediation
Atlanta Car Accident Mediation: Car Accident Mediation Process and Timeline
Today, most parties in car accident cases opt for an out-of-court settlement, whereby they agree to settle their disputes through settlement negotiations or mediation. Resolving legal disputes arising out of a car accident through mediation can be one of the most efficient ways of reaching a mutually satisfactory resolution of the matter. But what does Atlanta car accident mediation entail, and how is it different from a trial? In this article, we will share some insights about the process and timeline of car accident mediation, so read on to learn about it.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution, which involves a neutral third party (usually referred to as a mediator) who facilitates discussions and negotiations between two or more parties to help them resolve their dispute and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement/settlement.
The purpose of mediation is to avoid the time, cost, and stress of taking a case to court, and instead, allow parties to resolve their legal disputes with the help of a neutral third party. Mediation provides an opportunity for parties to voluntarily make negotiations and offers to settle a claim/case after each party explains their perspective.
In mediation, unlike other forms of alternative dispute resolution, the neutral third party does not make any binding decision. The parties have full power to determine how they want to resolve their dispute and can terminate the mediation as they wish.
Typically, the driver who brought the claim or his/her attorney, and the other driver or a representative or the attorney representing the insurance company of the other driver take part in the car accident mediation.
In most cases, you and the other party or parties will equally share the cost of mediation. Therefore, you can avoid wasting time, money, and energy by ensuring that the other party is genuinely willing and committed to resolving the matter out of court.
Both parties should voluntarily agree to pursue car accident mediation to resolve their dispute and settle the claim, and neither party can force the other to make such a decision.
A complaint can be filed for the court to order mediation down the road. However, that isn’t always likely to happen. Remember that any settlement or agreement reached after mediation isn’t binding.
For that reason, you should be certain that the other side genuinely wants to settle the claim before you agree to Atlanta car accident mediation. You don’t want to drive up costs for no reason if the other party wants to pursue mediation in bad faith, and thus, don’t agree to it.
Choosing the Right Mediator
During car accident mediation, a neutral third party known as a mediator facilitates discussions and negotiations between disputing parties to try to settle the claim. Retired judges or attorneys who mediate personal injury cases regularly are usually the best choice for car accident mediators.
Mediators play a vital role in the mediation process, including helping parties to identify issues to be resolved, exploring the bases for reaching a resolution, discussing the consequences of the settlement/agreement, and guiding parties to accommodate the other parties’ interests.
Therefore, when it comes to choosing a mediator who would be the best fit for your dispute resolution, you and the other party should be careful and do your due diligence to make an informed choice.
If you decide to pursue mediation to resolve your car accident case, ensure you work with the right mediator who will guide you (the parties in dispute) to reach a voluntary, satisfactory, and agreeable out-of-court resolution or settlement.
Before Going to Mediation
Each party should prepare their arguments and settlement demands in form of a brief before going to mediation. The mediator and the parties in mediation should get the briefs so that everyone is fully and equally informed about the case.
What to Expect During Mediation?
After confirming the presence of the mediator and both parties or their representatives (you and your lawyer, and the other driver or a representative of his or her insurance company), a car accident mediation typically begins with an introductory session.
Before you proceed with your mediation, the mediator will first highlight the preliminary matters and let the parties know about their rights. The mediator will also remind parties about keeping the statements made during the mediation process confidential and neither party cannot use them against the other in court.
After the introductory session, the mediator and parties will either move to a single room or separate rooms to carry on with their Atlanta car accident mediation and get into the details of the case/claim.
At this point, both parties will be given an opportunity to describe the dispute, present statements about the case, and make their settlement demands. Then, the mediator will ask parties to go to separate rooms so that they can hold private caucuses.
The mediator usually will be going back and forth to meet each party separately and ask them to make their best settlement offer, giving reason(s) why it should be considered as a fair and reasonable offer. After listening to the offers made, the mediator will convey the same information to the respective parties.
If the mediator determines that the two parties have made somewhat close offers, then he or she will advise both parties to meet halfway so that they can reach an agreement and settle the claim.
However, if both parties make offers that are too far apart, the mediator will ask parties to either reconsider their settlement demands and make new proposals, or stop the mediation and take the case to court if they remain adamant.
Duration of Mediation
The duration of car accident mediation varies depending on the type of case to be resolved. Mediation itself has no time limit, so parties can take as much time as they want to settle the claim. There is no problem if you take up to several weeks to reach a settlement. However, a car accident mediation typically concludes in a day or two.
What Happens After Mediation
After reaching a resolution, the mediator will draft a car accident mediation agreement for the parties and go through it together with them before signing. If both parties are satisfied with the agreement, the mediator will ask them to sign it.
Keep in mind that courts in many jurisdictions treat mediation agreements as enforceable contracts that can be upheld.
Consult Our Car Accident Attorney
Nowadays, the courts can either ask or order parties in car accident cases to go to mediation first rather than taking up the case for trial from the onset. However, there is no need to wait for a court-ordered car accident mediation if you’re willing to settle the claim out of court.
Before filing a lawsuit in court, you can reach out to the other party to ask them if they are willing to mediate. If they agree to mediation, then it shows they are ready for an out-of-court settlement for your car accident claim to avoid the expenses of litigation in court.
If you are not satisfied with the resolution reached after mediation, then you should not be forced to accept because you still have the right to file a lawsuit in court to seek a better settlement.
While it is not mandatory to have a car accident lawyer when going to mediation, we recommend you find an experienced and reputable attorney who will represent you, protect your interests and rights, and maximize the value of your claim.
Atlanta Car Accident Mediation
If you need an experienced, reliable, and dedicated Atlanta car accident attorney to represent you in mediation, contact Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC today. Call us now at (470) 268-5802 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation with our attorney.
Atlanta Car Accident Mediation