Many people believe that once their lawsuit is filed in Court, the next step is trial. While that may be true in some states, every case that is filed in North Carolina Civil Superior Court is required to go through mandatory mediation. This is usually the final step before a case receives a trial date.
In laymen’s terms, mediation is a meeting between the parties, their attorneys, and a mediator that both sides choose, where they try to get the case settled. At this phase of the case, most, if not all, of the discovery has been completed, and if the case does not settle at mediation, the next step is a jury trial.
Mediators Have Important Roles
At mediation, each side presents their synopsis and argument for their case, and then the parties break into separate rooms, with the mediator going back and forth between rooms in an attempt to get the case settled. Your attorney will make a settlement demand, which is the starting point to begin negotiations.
It is the mediator’s job to try to get the parties to come to a compromise in order to settle the case. Mediations can last an entire day, or more than one day, depending on how complex the case is. As the mediator goes back and forth between rooms, he or she will share the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and what types of arguments the other side is making. However, if you advise the mediator that you do not want something you say shared with the parties in the other room, the mediator will keep that information confidential.
After the mediator has gone back and forth between rooms a number of times, usually referred to as “rounds”, the discussion then becomes focused on money. If the case can be settled, both sides will sign a settlement agreement memorializing the terms. If the case is not settled, the parties report to the Court that mediation was unsuccessful, and a trial date is chosen.
Mediation is Very Beneficial
The benefits of mediation are numerous. It allows both sides to come together in a more relaxed environment and get to the heart of the issues in the case. In addition, the parties get a different perspective on the case, from the mediator’s point of view.
Since the mediator is an unbiased third party, he or she may bring certain issues to light that the plaintiff or defense may not have thought of prior to mediation. It also allows the Plaintiff to have control over the outcome of his or her case. At any time during mediation, the Plaintiff and his or her attorney can stop the negotiations if it appears that the defense will never pay the dollar figure the Plaintiff needs in order for the case to settle.
On the flip side, the Plaintiff can agree to a dollar figure and know that he or she is going to get a certain sum in his or her pocket. The risk of trial is mitigated during mediation. The Plaintiff does not have to risk what a jury may award him or her for injuries, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Instead, the Plaintiff can walk away knowing that the case was resolved for a concrete sum of money.
Representation is Key
Whether or not your case settles at mediation, it is important to have the best representation possible during the litigation process, mediation and/or trial. Our team of experienced attorneys is here to help you navigate this process, and to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Please remember that The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor is here for you and is committed to assisting you with your case. All of our five offices are open and staffed. We are able to handle cases remotely during this time as well. We have offices in Charlotte, Hickory, and Greenville, North Carolina, and in Rock Hill and Columbia in South Carolina. Please give us a call so that we can fight for your rights.