At Swiney & Bellenger, we offer mediation services involving most areas of civil litigation.
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At Swiney & Bellenger, we offer mediation services involving most areas of civil litigation including, but not limited to, workers’ compensation, personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and products liability cases. Although it can be ordered by a court of law, mediation is typically a voluntary process by which parties to a lawsuit or dispute engage the services of a neutral third-party (a mediator) to facilitate and assist them in resolving some or all their issues. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines mediation as “intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or compromise; specifically, a means of resolving disputes outside of the judicial system by voluntary participation in negotiations structured by agreement of the parties and usually conducted under the guidance and supervision of a trained intermediary.”
Mediation is not Arbitration. Although both are means of alternative dispute resolution, mediation differs from arbitration in that it is not binding unless the parties reach a voluntary and mutual agreement. Additionally, a mediator serves as a facilitator in the resolution process rather than one who decides the outcome of the dispute like an arbitrator. Rule 1(a) of the Alabama Civil Court Mediation Rules states that “[m]ediation is an extra judicial procedure for the resolution of disputes, provided for by statute and by the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. A mediator facilitates negotiations between parties to a civil action and assists the parties in trying to reach a settlement, but does not have the authority to impose a settlement upon the parties.”
There are a number of benefits to mediation for all parties involved. First, the parties to a mediation control their own destiny because no outcome or resolution can be forced upon any party. All parties must agree to any settlement that is reached, along with the terms of the settlement. Second, mediations are much less formal than court proceedings and most often take place at private law offices. Another benefit of mediation is that everything involved in mediation is confidential. Because of this rule of confidentiality, the settlement discussions during mediation are not admissible should the case proceed to trial and the mediator cannot be forced to testify about what he or she learned during the mediation. Mediation also provides the parties the opportunity to explore options and outcomes not available in a court of law. Finally, mediation can save the parties both time and money. Oftentimes, parties will be ready to go to trial long before a trial date is available simply because of the sheer number of cases pending in the court system. Likewise, if a case can be settled prior to trial, it can often end up saving the parties from further attorney fees and case expenses/costs.
At Swiney & Bellenger, our attorneys have handled hundreds of mediations over the past 19 years and we look forward to the opportunity to assist you or your client toward a resolution of your case. Based on your preferences, we are able to accommodate both in-person and virtual mediation conferences and look forward to working with you in the near future.