Most accident victims haven’t heard of a mediation conference. When you suffer damages in an Atlanta car accident, you typically file a car crash claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, the insurance company is not always willing to accept your claim or pay the amount you demand. Instead, the company is likely to either reject your claim or to make a counter-offer with a significantly lower amount of damages.
When this happens, you have the option of taking your claim to a court of law. Before the case goes to a trial, a number of pre-trial activities take place. These are meant to provide a final opportunity for both sides to resolve the dispute out of court. One of these pre-trial activities is ‘mediation.’
What is Mediation?
Mediation, as the name suggests, is an attempt at resolving the dispute between you and the insurance company. In mediation, both sides sit down with a neutral third-party known as the mediator. Mediation may be arranged by one of the parties involved in the dispute. In such a case, both sides must agree to come together for mediation.
In other words, you can’t force the insurance company to come to the mediation table and neither can the insurer force you. However, it is also possible that a judge reviews the dispute and then orders mediation. In such a case, both sides are required to attend mediation.
How Does Mediation Work?
Before mediation begins, the mediator clears up the rules that apply. One of the key rules for mediation is that any statements you make at the mediation are not admissible in court. This allows you, and the insurer, to freely express views in a bid to reach some kind of an agreement.
Once the rules of the session are out of the way, the mediator asks you to express your viewpoint. This is where you detail your version of how the crash occurred, your losses caused by the crash, and the fair amount of damages you are entitled to. You must also clearly state what you think would constitute fair agreement terms.
The insurance company is next asked to give their views. The company sums up its own version of the crash and may cite objections as to why it doesn’t wish to pay you or wants to reduce the amount of damages.
The mediator then tries to bridge the gap between your demand and the company’s response. This is done by instigating discussion. The mediator may conduct discussion as a group where both sides are present, or separate both sides. In the latter case, the mediator may speak to both sides in separate rooms.
An important task that a mediator performs is to bring out the weaknesses and strengths of your claim. Based on a neutral assessment of both sides, the mediator will tell how strong your claim is and how it is likely going to go down in a court of law. If the claim is weak, the mediator will ask you to reconsider your position and reduce your demand. The mediator plays a similar role for the insurance company as well.
After the Mediation
As the mediation session draws to its conclusion, you should get a feeling of whether or not an agreement can be reached. A mediator can’t force both parties to reach any agreement. He or she can only oversee the proceedings, direct them and make suggestions. If you and the insurance company reach an agreement, the mediator helps you put it down in writing and sign it to make it legally binding.
However, you must ensure that the other person representing the insurance company has the authority to make a decision. This must be cleared from the get-go.
Benefits of Mediation
It will cost you both time and money to arrange a conference. So make sure you do it only when and if the insurance company is willing. If you and the other side can resolve the dispute through mediation, this saves both of you from lengthy court proceedings, legal costs, and additional expenses.
Hiring a Reliable Car Accident Lawyer in Atlanta
If you have suffered a crash in Atlanta and wish to file a car crash claim, we can help you. Here at the Green Legal Group, we work with crash victims to negotiate with the insurance company on their behalf. We also advise you on how best to handle mediation conference and other pre-trial activities. If the claim goes to trial, our experienced lawyers will fight for a fair settlement. Call us today to discuss your case in a free consultation.