Updated May 29, 2019
There are a few different ways to settle your personal injury case, and your attorney will be able to help you decide the best course of action. While you’re working out the details of your case with them, you might hear the words mediation and litigation. What do those mean, and which one is better for your case?
Litigation is the legal term for a lawsuit. More specifically, it’s the process where the involved parties try to come to a solution to their dispute in cases that range from breaches of contract to personal injury. Personal injury cases tend to be civil litigation lawsuits: the end goal is receiving compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries rather than sending someone to jail.
One of the alternatives to litigation is mediation. Mediation attempts to settle a case without going to trial. The plaintiff, defendant, attorneys, and a neutral third party called a mediator all talk about the case to see if they can find a solution. The mediator’s job is not to make a judgment on a case like a judge and jury or the arbitrator in arbitration would. While the mediator will look at documents, listen to what both parties say, and educate themselves on the case, they are there to facilitate a conversation about the most agreeable option for both parties rather than make a legally-binding decision.
Mediation generally only happens if both sides agree to try settling in this way. Most of the time, mediation is a voluntary process unless the dispute becomes a lawsuit or in certain kinds of cases. If no agreement is reached, everyone goes back to where they were before mediation began: No one can be forced to settle.
Whether mediation or litigation serves your needs better depends on your case. Mediation might be a good idea in cases where someone needs to make a move toward settlement if both parties have reached an impasse. Mediated cases could get resolved faster than cases that go to court, taking the focus off of the case and back to the life that the plaintiff had before their injury.
Being able to sit down with defendants can be empowering to plaintiffs. In mediation, all of the parties are actively involved in the process and the outcome. At the same time, there isn’t the pressure of cross-examination and other parts of going on trial, and walking away from an unsatisfactory offer is always an option.
One of the biggest benefits of mediation is that settling your case before it goes to trial could save a lot of money: Between what to expect at a deposition, expert witnesses, and various other courtroom expenses, lawsuits are expensive, and those expenses can come out of your settlement. Therefore, even if you might receive less in damages by settling outside of court, you can keep more of those damages once the case ends (and even see a check sooner than you would after a trial that might get appealed). This doesn’t mean that mediation is without expenses: The process lasts a few hours, and those hours can be expensive depending on the mediator involved.
It can be overwhelming to research mediation and litigation, especially when you have a lot on your mind already with your personal injury case. If you’re in the Indianapolis area and looking for a way to settle your personal injury claim, the Personal Injury Attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham might be able to help you. The attorneys at WKW have years of experience with personal injury claims and can help you decide what’s best for you. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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