What is mediation?

Mediation is one of the three different forms of resolving civil disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution:

  • arbitration,
  • neutral case evaluation, and
  • mediation.

The mediation process is purposely informal and may begin with an informal presentation by either party as to the merits of their case, followed up by the mediator talking with the parties either in front of each other or individually. The sole purpose of mediation is to see if the mediator can help the parties reach a settlement. A skillful mediator can provide a great deal of assist­ance in helping the parties bridge the gap between what one party may want and what the other party is willing to offer.

If the mediation process is not successful in reaching a settlement, then frequently it is followed by a neutral case evaluation wherein the mediator changes the hat that is being worn and provides a neutral case evaluation as to what the case may be worth.

Some state laws mandate ADR before certain civil suits may be filed. In particular, this is seen in regards to medical malpractice actions where some states require mediation or non-binding arbitration as a prelude to filing suit.

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