Each year, over 10 million car accidents take place across the United States. In most of these accidents, property damage or some form of personal injury is incurred. Car insurance exists for exactly this purpose, but many times, it is difficult for an injured party and insurance companies have difficulty coming to an agreement on compensation for the accident.
In cases were the insurance company and the injured party cannot come to an agreement mediation is often required. Mediation to many people is a foreign concept, and many injured parties find themselves wondering exactly what car accident mediation is, how it works, and what its purpose is.
Mediation, in short, is a process by which the injured party and the insurance company meet with a trained, unbiased third party to attempt to come to an agreement on compensation.
Mediation is also used in other avenues of the law, such as family law and divorce proceedings. In the case of car accident mediation, the mediator aims to help the insurance company and the injured party come to an agreement about compensation. Mediators cannot, in the case of car accidents, force parties into an agreement, but rather, aim to help the parties better understand the situation.
Additionally, train mediators make suggestions about how to proceed with the claim.
In most cases, mediation is agreed upon by both the insurance company and the insured party prior to a court case. Mediation for a car accident, however, can be court ordered once proceedings begin, as well. Prior to court both the insurance company and the injured party agree to meet with a mediator. The actual mediation process is simply a meeting between employees from the insurance company, the mediator and the injured party.
During the mediation meeting the first step is preliminary hearings. During the preliminary phase all parties are in the same room together. The injured party is asked to share their view of the case, as well as their proposed resolution. The insurance company is then asked to do the same. Once both parties have laid out the facts of the case and their respective resolution back-and-forth discussions can begin.
During the back-and-forth discussion both parties may remain in the same room, or may be separated.
During separate meetings the mediator may discuss the facts of the case, the potential strengths and weaknesses, and how similar cases have resolved. The mediator may act as a “go-between” and share one parties’ resolutions with the other.
The overall goal of mediation is to reach an agreement and to resolve the case without utilizing court proceedings. While mediation is a helpful process, it can fail and both parties may agree that court proceedings are necessary. Because mediation can fail in the case of car accident discussions, both parties will be asked to sign waivers. These waivers state that any information shared, and any resolution proposed during the mediation session cannot be used at a later date in a court of law.
The information discussed in mediation is not deemed admissible in a court of law, and thus, both parties should speak freely about the case and their desired resolutions.
Each year, thousands of people go through the process of mediation for car accident claims. While mediation is not a particularly pleasant experience for many people, the process can be extremely helpful, and in some cases can resolve a car accident claim without going to trail for it. The process of mediation is a valid method of resolving conflict. If you find yourself in a mediation session feel free to speak your mind and share your insight into the case with the mediator to get the best resolution.