Alternatives to Going to Court in an Auto Accident Case (or) Mediation in Auto Accident Cases
One important question commonly asked by Floridians involved in automobile accidents is--are there alternatives to going to court in Florida after a car accident? Going to court can be a tedious, time-consuming, and financially draining process. One solution to avoid going to court is mediation. In instances where a lawsuit is established after an auto accident, cases are required to go to mediation before entering an official trial. Thankfully, however, many auto cases are settled before a lawsuit is even brought up. Through mediation, settlements are brokered between the involved parties to resolve conflicts before reaching the court setting. The goal of this writing is to establish and explain what mediation is and to further develop a greater understanding of the process.
First and foremost, what is mediation? Mediation, within the context of law, can be defined as: “the attempt to settle a legal dispute through active participation of a third party (mediator) who works to find points of agreement and make those in conflict agree on a fair result” (Hill). More simply put, mediation is an informal method of resolution where two conflicting parties convene and negotiate under the legal facilitation of a neutral-third party mediator--the overall goal being to avoid the taxing nature of courts. Mediation can easily be confused with arbitration, which involves a third party as well. The third party in the arbitration, however, acts more within the role of an uninvolved judge than a hands-on mediator. Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution, otherwise known as “ADR.” ADRs have become increasingly popular in solving various disputes before trial. As previously mentioned, in Florida, auto accident lawsuit cases are required to engage in mediation before entering a trial. Within the context of auto accidents, the parties involved during mediation are usually the individual who brought up the claim, and the other driver involved in the accident (or one of the two’s legal representatives). When lawsuits are brought up, mediation is generally the best option to maintain efficiency and relatively low costs.
Next, what are the responsibilities of a mediator? It’s worth noting beforehand that mediators are generally lawyers (who may have an emphasis on mediation) and former judges. The overall goal of a mediator is to, “facilitate communication between the parties in conflict with a view to helping them reach a voluntary resolution to their dispute that is timely, fair and cost-effective” (justice.gov.mt). They are subsequently responsible for maintaining a certain code of conduct, confidentiality, and impartiality. Mediators are additionally accountable for ensuring transparency with all parties involved: fully explaining their role, establishing meetings, and regularly discussing and investigating all aspects of a case.
Finally, what are the advantages and disadvantages of mediation? Besides being a Florida requirement, mediations are popular because they provide an opportunity to meet directly with an opposing party, and greater understand all sides of the situation. Additionally, mediation is extraordinarily beneficial in saving significant amounts of money that would normally be lost pursuing trials. The court’s infamous inefficiency is also worth avoiding, if able. One of the few disadvantages of mediation, however, is the lack of guarantee. Because the parties and circumstances of an accident are always different, one cannot predict the outcome of a mediation, or if a settlement will be made.
If you have recently been in an auto accident or suffered from a personal injury and see mediation in your future, having an experienced personal injury attorney is a necessity. Contact Carrillo & Carrillo: Attorneys at Law today to determine if we can be of service to you.