Mediation in Car Accident Cases Can Lead to Equitable Settlement of Claims

Mediation is an alternative method of settling disputes and can facilitate the settlement of car accident claims, without the need for going to court. It is sometimes resorted to as a result of a court order. Mediation for car accident insurance is a voluntary and yet confidential method of dispute resolution that is presided over by a third party, who is neutral and acceptable to both sides in the dispute.

Mediation does not close off other alternatives, and in case the dispute is not resolved you can go further into arbitration or take legal recourse. In most arbitration cases, parties are required to agree to abide by the decision arrived at by an arbitrator. Most mediators are attorneys who have added special training in dispute resolution and can even be those who have retired from judicial service. The mediator will not tell the disputing parties what they are required to do, but will try to get them to agree after they identify the issues that are in dispute. In the case of mediation the control of the final result rests with the disputing parties, while the mediator only acts to facilitate discussion.

A mediation starts with both sides having to prepare a brief for the mediator, giving details of the accident; damages caused and the amounts asked for as settlement. The parties and their lawyers, if any, also have to exchange these documents with each other. All aspects of the case are then in the knowledge of all the parties involved in the mediation effort. The preparation is the same as that which would have to be made for any insurance claim. In most of these cases, insurance companies are a party to the dispute. These companies are willing to go in for such efforts, as there can then be substantial savings in legal costs and court appearances. They also require less time, as they do not have to depend on court calendars and the parties are free to decide the venue and timing of any meetings needed to take the process of mediation further.

The mediation starts with an initial meeting after all parties have been given sufficient time to go through the documents presented. In this session, the mediator will give a general introduction of the case, discuss protocols, lay down guidelines and set time limits. The mediator can also summarize the main points of contention based on the briefs presented by both the parties to the dispute. Each party is then allowed to present individual cases and their viewpoint of the accident and the reasons for it occurring. The mediator remains a silent spectator but will use this to gauge the intent and emotions of both parties.

In most cases, the parties are then separated and are allowed to talk only to the mediator. The mediator will alternate between the parties with suggestions for a compromise. Most mediation starts with lower settlements being offered, and higher claims being made. But, a compromise can be reached if both parties are willing to leave their entrenched positions.