What is a Mediation?

In a nutshell, mediation is an attempt to settle a case where all parties come together at a specified time and place for that purpose. Mediation is a good chance to educate when either side has unreasonable expectations. Mediation can help get resolved a claim that should not go to trial. Mediation is a good tool for use in the small case that does not justify the expense of trial. As a general rule, it never hurts to mediate (since mediation, as opposed to arbitration, is not binding); but do not let the other side conduct more discovery during the mediation than they allow to be conducted of them. For this reason, have agreements on the front end regarding who will appear at the mediation and that they have plenary authority. I do not take my clients to a mediation unless the economically responsible defendant or insurance company representatives are going to be present. In cases where damages are great and liability is clear, mediation can be used to get reserves set higher for further negotiations down the road, or to communicate the seriousness of the case and the client’s willingness and readiness to go to trial. When big dollars are at stake, insurance companies usually do not authorize as much for settlement at a mediation as they later will authorize immediately prior to or after the beginning of trial.

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