More and more the process of mediation is utilized to settle lawsuits before trial. Mediation can take place at anytime during the claim process--even before suit on occasion.
When the parties' agree to mediate, they must also agree on a mediator. The mediator is ordinarily an experienced trial lawyer or retired judge who has been certified through training in mediation.
Ordinarily, the mediator will have the parties' lawyers first submit a letter and documents outlining their case, including the stronger and weaker aspects. A mediation session will then be scheduled at a neutral location. The mediator will explain ground rules to the parties at the outset and then separate them in different rooms.
The mediator will discuss aspects of the case with each side and then carry offers and counteroffers back and forth. If the mediator can bring the parties to a common number, the case settles.
Some advantages of mediation include:
> Avoiding the gamble of placing the case in front of group of strangers;
> Reducing expenses incurred in trial preparation;
> Early resolution reduces stress and anxiety to claimants;
A disadvantage of mediation is that if the client's case is very strong, the client may not recover a suitable amount.
It is estimated that 80% to 90% of cases which go to mediation are settled in the process.