The majority of personal injury claims do not get litigated in court. This is because they go through a negotiation process known as mediation. Implementing mediation before litigation helps to reduce the caseload in the court system. It also enables injured individuals to recover damages sooner. The lawyers at Goodin Abernathy work with clients to explain the mediation and court process. They advise which approach is best for a client’s particular situation. If you recently experienced an injury due to another’s actions, you are probably wondering, is mediation or court right for me?
What Happens During Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary process designed to be an alternative dispute resolution process that helps people avoid going to court. The parties will hire a professional mediator to facilitate the negotiation process to reach an agreement. This process is informal, and the mediator does not decide the outcome for the parties. The parties will meet at a neutral location on the agreed-upon day of mediation. The mediator will then communicate with the parties together or in separate rooms to create a mutually agreeable outcome. The lawyers at Goodin Abernathy represent clients during this process to ensure their best interests are advocated for.
What Happens At Court
Almost anyone can file a lawsuit claim with the court at almost any time. Once that paperwork gets filed, it puts the wheels in motion for a process that requires the defending party to respond. Even if the defendant thinks the lawsuit is frivolous, incorrect, or false; they must respond to the claim. There is a strict set of rules that both parties must follow, and participation is not optional.
The parties will exchange evidence, and a trial date will be set. During the trial, both parties will argue their point of view in front of a judge. The judge will then review the applicable law, the evidence, and the arguments set forth. From this, the judge makes a ruling that is final and binding. If a party does not like the ruling, they can begin the appeals process. The legal process of going to court can take years.
Reasons to Choose Mediation
There are several reasons for someone to consider mediation instead of litigating their claim in court. First, because mediation is a voluntary process that does not preclude you from pursuing your claim in court, it is worth considering. The lawyers at Goodin Abernathy speak with their clients about the best approach and strategy for pursuing a claim for damages. Because each case is different, our attorneys use their experience to advise a plan that will effectively advocate for the client’s best interest.
One of the biggest advantages of mediation is the cost factor. Litigating in court is an expensive pursuit. Mediation is a more affordable alternative. This is something to consider when litigating a lawsuit could become cost prohibitive to the potential recovery of damages.
There is a significant amount of freedom and flexibility when negotiating during mediation. Resolutions that wouldn’t be available during litigation in court are available in mediation. First, the parties participating have a voice in who the mediator is. In contrast, parties cannot pick and choose the judge that hears their case in court. Next, the parties can shape and define how the mediation process will work. This enables the parties to choose a process and method that will work best for the uniqueness of the situation at hand. When litigating in court, a strict set of rules must be adhered to.
Participating in mediation is a voluntary activity. No one can force someone else to participate in mediation or accept an offer extended during mediation. Because of this, it puts people in the right mindset to come to an acceptable resolution for all parties involved.
The timeline for going through mediation is significantly shorter than litigating in court. How long mediation will take varies based on the facts and details of the claim and the situation causing the claim. The process could take a few weeks, months, or a year. However, this is quick compared to the court process, which can take years.
The longer a process takes, the more stress, fear, and anxiety someone will experience. So mediation can offer relief sooner, allowing someone to move on from the situation sooner.
Reasons to Choose Litigation
While mediation has several benefits that make it worth considering, it isn’t the right course of action in every situation. Mediation may not result in an outcome that delivers the appropriate recovery of damages for some injured victims. Before you agree to participate in mediation, a lawyer from Goodin Abernathy can help you understand your options and possible outcomes.
Inequitable Party Power
Mediation may not be the best option if there is a significant difference in power and resources between the two parties. The more powerful party could pressure the other to agree to a less favorable mediation outcome. This is commonly seen when an injured individual attempts to negotiate with an insurance company. The insurance company has significantly more resources and experience. As a result, the individual is at a disadvantage during mediation. One approach is to hire a law firm with experience and a strong reputation for client advocacy. This can level the playing field, making mediation more viable. If an acceptable outcome cannot be reached, the law firm can advise the client to proceed with litigation in court.
Party Refusal to Compromise
For mediation to work, both parties must agree and want to mediate the disagreement. Despite both parties agreeing to mediation, an agreement will never be reached if one party refuses to compromise. If it is clear that an agreement or resolution will not be reached, then the next option is to pursue the claim in court.
Contact Goodin Abernathy About Your Claim
If you have recently experienced an injury due to the actions of another individual or business, then you may be considering seeking compensation. Before you pursue your claim for damages, it can be helpful to speak with a lawyer. The team of attorneys at Goodin Abernathy are ready to listen to the circumstances surrounding your injuries. They will then discuss the available options and recommend a plan to advocate on your behalf.
Schedule a free consultation and speak with a lawyer from Goodin Abernathy today.