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Alternative Dispute Resolution

Definition - What does Alternative Dispute Resolution mean?

Alternative dispute resolution can include any legal process which is used to avoid a lengthy court battle. The most common alternative dispute resolution used for personal injury cases is mediation, although other types of legal cases may also be resolved through arbitration, mini-trials, summary jury trials, early neutral evaluations, or negotiation.

In recent years there has been increased interest in alternative dispute resolution strategies to resolve legal issues. Plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers, and insurance adjusters now recognize that mediation can be less expensive, less time-consuming and less stressful for all parties. Insurance adjusters avoid the cost of trial, and the plaintiffs, if they win their case, may receive their compensation more quickly.

What is mediation?

Mediation allows all parties in a dispute to meet with a neutral, third-party mediator. The goal of the mediation is to help create a satisfying resolution to a personal injury case. In personal injury claims, prior to the lawsuit being filed with the court, the mediation process is voluntary and informal. If a resolution is not found during the mediation process, the plaintiff may proceed to court. Mediation also allows both parties to work together and independently with the mediator. The mediator listens to both sides of the issue and facilitates a resolution. Unlike a court hearing, which has legal restrictions and a very specific process which must be followed, mediation does not have restrictions on how facts and opinions are presented.

Who are the Mediators?

Mediators are generally lawyers or retired judges. They can work full-time or part-time. They are generally expensive to hire, but most mediations last only a few hours. Most mediators have expertise handling personal injury cases and some are currently practicing lawyers who also work on personal injury cases for other injured parties or insurance companies.

When Should I use mediation?

Mediation is a viable option for resolving a personal injury claim when the plaintiff and the adjuster are thousands of dollars away from a settlement; they do not agree on the extent of the plaintiff's injuries or who caused the accident; and they have finished with all preliminary negotiations and have not been able to come to an agreement.

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