Not all New Yorkers looking to file a personal injury claim will benefit from a lawsuit or litigation proceeding. When common ground cannot be met between two parties, alternative dispute resolution methods can be a useful option to settle outstanding legal issues.
Mediation is a standard method of dispute resolution that is facilitated by an attorney called a mediator. A mediator helps to settle legal matters as a neutral party and can draft settlements without bias or commitment to either party. This mediation process allows both parties to express their concerns and have a say in resolving a case.
Mediation can be used to settle various legal conflicts in New York State, including disputes with neighbors, tenants and landlords, homeowners, employers, caregivers, or family members. Determining whether mediation is the right step for you starts with understanding the process and benefits. In this blog, we will cover the basics of mediation as an alternative dispute resolution technique to find if this method is right for you.
How Does Mediation Work
Mediation is an assisted negotiation that does not favor either party over the other. Both parties need to consent to the mediation process before a mediator takes the case. Mediators are not responsible for rendering a decision or choosing sides. It is up to the parties involved to come to an agreement for the mediation to be successful.
The mediation process begins with both parties meeting the chosen mediator to discuss the resolution goal(s). The mediator will generally cover the issues surrounding the party dispute and identify the central issues to prioritize throughout the process. Some instances require a mediator to meet with parties separately. These meetings are called caucuses, and information discussed is help entirely confidential from the other party.
The role of a mediator, other than guiding a dispute resolution, is to raise doubts and the validity of each side’s argument. This process prepares the disputants with the facts surrounding their current standing and a perspective of how the dispute would be viewed if elevated to an adjudicatory hearing.
Benefits of Mediation vs. Litigation
In addition to working with a neutral party, mediation comes with several benefits compared to lawsuits and litigations. The advantages highlighted by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation include:
- Avoiding court delays;
- Eliminating future costs;
- Remaining confidential;
- Identifying underlying issues;
- Enabling parties to resolve long-standing issues mutually;
- Promoting problem-solving techniques; and
- Avoids an uncertain outcome compared to formal adjudication.
Mediation can become an alternative dispute strategy at most stages of the legal process. Plaintiffs currently involved in a lawsuit or litigation proceeding may choose to go with mediation to resolve an issue more quickly without the risk of a negative outcome in court.
When Mediation Is Not Appropriate
Not every claim will be appropriate for settling through mediation. Examples of when legal conflicts may not be appropriate include:
- One of the party members suffers from a mental disability, brain injury, or substance-abuse problem that impairs decision-making;
- A plaintiff’s case is to clarify violation of the law and requires a judicial determination;
- A plaintiff is seeking punitive damages;
- A defendant is subject to frequent lawsuits;
- If the defendant is accused of criminal acts, physical abuse, or sexual abuse; and
- A case involves more than one person who has been victimized or harmed by the defendant’s actions.
Standards of a Mediator
According to the New York State Unified Court System, mediators in New York State are held to a high standard in their role. The code of conduct mediators in NYS must demonstrate include:
- Self Determination: A mediator shall conduct a mediation in a manner that supports the principle of party self- determination as to both process and outcome;
- Impartiality: A mediator shall conduct a mediation in an impartial manner and shall avoid conduct that gives the appearance of partiality toward or prejudice against a party. A mediator shall accept for mediation only those matters in which the mediator can remain impartial;
- Conflicts of Interest: A mediator shall avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest before, during, and after a mediation either by disclosing the conflict or withdrawing from the process;
- Competence: A mediator shall mediate only when the mediator has the necessary competence to satisfy the reasonable expectations of the parties and the sponsoring organization for which she or he mediates;
- Confidentiality: A mediator shall maintain the confidentiality of all information obtained by the mediator during mediation, including information obtained from the parties, non-party participants, or documents shown to the mediator, with the exception of any allegation of child abuse;
- Quality of the Process: A mediator shall conduct a quality mediation process that is consistent with the Standards of Conduct found here;
- Advertising and Solicitation: A mediator shall be truthful and not misleading when advertising, soliciting, or otherwise communicating his or her qualifications, experience, and range of available professional services; and
- Responsibilities to the Mediation Profession: A mediator shall act in a manner that enhances the mediation profession’s growth and quality.
How to Start Mediation
There are two initial steps to mediation that must take place before the process can begin: getting the other party to the table and choosing a mediator.
If you are considering mediation but have doubts about the other party’s openness to the process, start with reviewing the advantages and the benefits to both sides. No one wants to go into litigation or a lawsuit, knowing they will come out with nothing. Mediation can be an excellent resource for plaintiffs to seek the justice they deserve without the risk of bad resolution.
Once both parties have agreed to mediation, the next step is finding the best mediator. Not all attorneys who provide mediation services are qualified or successful. Make sure to look for an attorney who has experience with mediation in the area of law you require. These professionals will be the most efficient in their ability to meet all standards required of mediators in NYS. They will possess a history of positive results and successful reviews from past clients.
New York City and Long Island Accident Attorneys
Our personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Siler & Ingber, have over 20 years of experience serving clients across New York City and Long Island. We protect your rights by maximizing recovery and securing the financial support our clients need to succeed on their road to recovery. Our winning attorneys know how to navigate through the claim process using past experience as insurance defense attorneys. We are not afraid to fight and are fully prepared to take your case to trial to get a justified verdict over settling for less.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another, our team at Siler & Ingber is here to help. With a 98% success rate, we have the experience and the know-how to help our clients achieve a favorable outcome. Contact us today at 1-877-529-4343 or schedule an appointment online anytime. We never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.