Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Neither party has the ability to force the other side to agree to mediation. The court has the ability to force one down the road after a complaint has been filed, but that is not always likely to happen. Keep in mind that mediation is not binding. For that reason, do not agree to it unless you believe that the other side genuinely wants to settle. If they do not, do not agree to mediation because you will just be driving up costs for no reason.
If both sides agree to opt for mediation, the two sides will need to agree on a mediator. The mediator is usually an experienced attorney who understands the applicable law on the relevant issue. He or she will act as a facilitator between the two parties in an attempt to get the parties to agree to a mutually beneficial solution. The way this usually occurs is by first letting both parties lay out a statement of the facts as they see them. Once all parties understand the points at issue. The mediator will attempt to show each side the weaknesses of his or her position until the parties can reach an accord. This is often done by separating the two parties into individual rooms so that the mediator can negotiate with each party privately until they can agree. Sometimes the parties do stay in the same room, but agreements are more commonly reached when cooler heads prevail. It is much easier to stay calm and reasonable when each party believes that he other party is remaining calm and reasonable. This separation avoids much of the risk of escalation of stress and anger. Stress and anger can be huge barriers to overcome when trying to understand an adverse point of view. Keep in mind that the facilitator is not their to judge, they will understand the law, but they are really only there to make recommendations so that the parties can better decide what to do.
Always make sure that the opposing side brings the decision maker to the mediation. There is no way to spend time and money reaching an agreement only to have it be rejected by the real decision maker. Your choice of mediator is also important. The more experience the better. You can ask your local courthouse who they recommend for car crash and other personal injury mediations. Some mediators will have strong reputations for getting adverse parties to reach agreements. Many mediators can even accomplish this feat in under an hour. That is why many opt for mediation, it truly can be an effective way to resolve a dispute. Keep in mind that there is not much to lose. A little time and a little money are the only things on the line. Formal litigation is far more expensive and far more time consuming.
This article is offered only for general information and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this article without first seeking the advice of an attorney.