Filing a personal injury claim after a car accident allows you to pursue compensation for the monetary damages you have suffered as a result of the other driver’s negligence. In a perfect world, you would simply submit your claim to the insurance company and receive compensation for the losses, both financial and non-financial, that occurred as a result of your accident. However, often, car accident claims do not progress as smoothly as you might have hoped. You and the insurance company might struggle to reach an agreement about a reasonable settlement for your claim.
Before you end up in court over your car accident claim, you may choose to pursue mediation.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is the last step, in many claims, before you decide to go to court over your car accident claim. Mediation occurs when the two parties involved in a car accident claim – in this case, you, as the injured victim, and the other driver’s insurance company–cannot reach an agreement about the compensation deserved for injuries sustained in that accident.
During mediation, both sides will have the opportunity to present their case to an impartial third party: the mediator. The mediator can then make recommendations about an effective resolution to the claim. Mediation is not binding. While the third party can make recommendations about how the two parties ought to settle their dispute, the parties can decide to accept the mediator’s verdict or not, based on their specific needs.
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How the Car Accident Mediation Process in Alabama Works
You have negotiated with the insurance company, but cannot reach an agreement. Now, you need to go through mediation. What, exactly, does that process look like, and what can you expect?
Prior to mediation, you and your attorney will need to accomplish two things.
- Choose a mediator. Usually, a mediator is a judge, retired judge, or retired lawyer who has handled personal injury mediation on a regular basis and can provide you with a deeper understanding of your rights and options.
- Prepare a brief that will include the basic information about your case. You will present the brief both to the mediator and to the other party involved in the negotiations so that everyone knows what steps have been taken thus far and what steps you need to take next.
The Introductory Session
During the introductory session, the mediator will first present basic information about the mediation process to both parties involved. This will include a statement about both parties’ right to confidentiality: in most Alabama car accident mediations, the information presented in that mediation process cannot be used in court.
Once both sides have heard the relevant information about their rights and the process, each side will have the opportunity to present their statements on the case, what they are disputing, and why. This can take place either with both parties in the same room, presenting to the mediator one by one, or with each party in separate rooms. The mediator will have the opportunity to ask any questions that may help shed more light on the dispute or the process.
After both parties have presented their claims to the mediator, the mediator will have the opportunity to discuss the offers with both sides. The mediator will ask each side, separately, to present their best offers, then give the reasons why they feel those offers are a fair and reasonable distribution considering the conditions of the accident and all the factors that led to it. Each side will have the opportunity to explain themselves. Usually, these discussions will take place in separate rooms, so each side can offer an honest assessment.
The mediator can take a look at both offers and determine how they compare to one another. If they are too far apart, and neither side will budge, the mediator may suggest that the claim move on to court in order to reach a resolution. On the other hand, the mediator may be able to make suggestions about how each side could give some ground on the claim in order to reach a more successful resolution for everyone involved.
The parties involved may have the chance to come up with alternate proposals that might better fit the needs of both sides.
Mediation will end in one of two solutions. Either the parties involved in the mediation process will come to an agreement that fits their needs, or the mediator will determine that the parties are too far apart and will need to go to court in order to reach a resolution. Ideally, you should pursue mediation when you think that you are relatively close to reaching an agreement or when both sides are motivated to reach an agreement through mediation, since mediation may extend the timeline on your Alabama car accident claim and the costs associated with your claim.
How Long does Mediation for a Car Accident Claim in Alabama Last?
Car accident mediations in Alabama can take as long as they need to take. In some cases, mediation for serious accident claims, including accidents involving immense injury like spinal cord injuries, which will lead to extensive ongoing medical costs, can take several days or even weeks. However, in most cases, car accident mediation will resolve within 1-2 days.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me During Mediation?
If your claim has reached the mediation stage, you should already have an experienced Alabama car accident lawyer on your side. A car accident lawyer can help ensure that your claim is presented in the best possible light and that you have identified the compensation you deserve for injuries sustained in the accident. Without a lawyer, you may find it much more difficult to navigate the mediation process.
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Contact Morris Bart for Help with Your Alabama Car Accident Claim
If you suffered injuries in a car accident in Alabama, Morris Bart can help you learn more about your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve. We support our clients at every stage of the car accident claim, from negotiation through mediation and even to court if necessary. Contact us today to learn more.
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