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Resolving personal injury claims through mediation


When Montana residents files a personal injury claim in connection with a car accident, they are often unsure how their case will be resolved. Some cases go to trial and a jury decides whether the defendant was negligent, and then decides the amount of damages that will fairly compensate the plaintiff. But, the majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court. Settlement provides certainty to both parties and avoids the risk and expense of trial.

One popular method of settling legal disputes, including automobile personal injury cases, is mediation. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, the mediator, works to facilitate the negotiations between the parties. The mediator does not decide the case. The mediator simply tries to get the parties to agree to a settlement.

In a personal injury case, the injured party will attend the mediation with their attorney. A representative of the defendant's insurance company is generally expected to attend with full settlement authority. It is common for the mediator to put the parties in separate rooms with their attorneys. The mediator then goes back and forth between the two rooms, conveying settlement offers and counteroffers, and communicating with the parties about the strengths and weaknesses of their positions.

There are many advantages to mediation as a means of resolving disputes. An experienced mediator can help the parties identify the areas where they agree. A mediator can provide an unbiased assessment of a party's case, and help a party understand when their expectations are not realistic. Whether mediation will be successful depends in large part on the willingness of the parties to make it work.

Source: Findlaw.com, "What is Mediation?" accessed Nov. 18, 2016

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