When Is Mediation Not a Good Idea?

Nov 01, 2022 | CHASENBOSCOLO

If you get injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, your first thought might be to file a lawsuit to cover your losses. However, most personal injury claims do not ever make it to court. Instead, the injured individual and their lawyer negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company to reach a settlement. However, if negotiations fail to result in an outcome that both parties find acceptable, they might still be able to come to an agreement through mediation.

Mediation is a process that many judges recommend or even require as a means of avoiding protracted and costly courtroom trials. A mediation session is overseen by a neutral legal professional with experience in alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The mediator’s goal is to assist the parties in reaching an outcome that they can both find acceptable.

For many reasons, both sides usually prefer a successful mediation session to a trial. However, some circumstances may make mediation a problematic or undesirable option. If you are considering whether mediation might be a good option for you, you may find it helpful to understand the kinds of situations in which it can and cannot work.

What Are the Benefits of Mediation?

Plaintiffs and defendants alike tend to find mediation preferable to going to trial. The many advantages of mediation include:

  • An opportunity for informal communication between the parties – Courtrooms are adversarial environments by nature. Many people experience a great deal of stress when they hear their lawyer laying out a case before a judge and jury. Mediation provides a much more informal atmosphere that allows both parties to entertain more creative paths toward resolution.
  • Relatively inexpensive – Mediators usually charge a fee for their sessions, which the parties generally divide between them. However, mediation’s expense is minuscule compared to going to trial.
  • Takes far less time – Often, mediation sessions can help the parties reach an agreement within a single day so that the plaintiff can receive their settlement quickly. Trials, by comparison, can take several months or even years.
  • Suggestions are non-binding – When a mediator offers a solution to the parties, both sides are free to accept or reject the suggestion as they see fit. If the proposed outcome is not in your best interests, you do not have to agree to it.

When Should I Avoid Mediation?

The above benefits are convincing enough that many plaintiffs choose to attempt mediation before proceeding to trial. However, there are certain circumstances where a mediation session might not suit you. These include:

  • A lack of suitable mediator – Successful mediation depends on an experienced, impartial mediator who can guide the parties through the process. If you and the defendant cannot agree on a suitable mediator, mediation will probably not work in your case.
  • The other side is operating in bad faith – While insurance adjusters are tasked with saving as much money as possible, they are nevertheless required to operate in good faith when dealing with your claim. If the insurance company is refusing your claim for no good reason, insisting that your losses are not as substantial as they are, or stalling as a tactic to get you to agree to a lower sum, they may be operating in bad faith. Mediation may be a fruitless option if you recognize any of these signs.
  • The accident was a product of malicious intent – Most accidents result from negligence. However, some injuries result from recklessness, maliciousness, or blatant disregard for human life. If the accident that caused your injuries came about in this fashion, you might be able to claim punitive damages as well as compensation for your losses. You would need to go to court to recover punitive damages.

How Do I Know?

It can sometimes be difficult to determine whether mediation is a good idea. Therefore, it is essential to have an excellent personal injury lawyer on your side. They will be able to guide you through the process and notice signs that mediation might not be suitable in your case. A good lawyer will be ready and willing to take your case to court if necessary.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you have been injured in an accident in the Washington, D.C., area, contact the Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys of CHASENBOSCOLO today. Our seasoned legal team will work to help you recover the fair compensation you deserve. Whether through negotiation, mediation, or a courtroom trial, our experienced attorneys will fight for your best interests every step of the way. Call us today at (301) 220-0050 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.