When most people think of mediation, they may only think of divorce and two people relying on mediators to work out a divorce settlement outside of court. However, mediators are also used in civil cases, prior to litigation to keep a case from going to court if possible. If you are considering a civil case or are being threatened with a lawsuit, we’re looking at how mediators in North Carolina are used to resolve disputes before they go to trial.
What Is Mediation?
In North Carolina, all Superior Court actions must go through mediation before being able to have the case heard in court, in accordance with North Carolina General Statute 7A -38.1. Mediation is a legal proceeding that brings two disputing parties together to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion. Unlike litigation, there won’t be a winner and a loser, instead, both sides should leave having made a compromise. While a case is in mediation, there will be a pending court case, so if mediation doesn’t work, both parties can move to the next step, which is litigation.
The mediator, a certified member of the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission, will meet with all parties involved and their attorneys and break down the framework for the discussions, starting with allowing each side to discuss the case from their point of view. Then, the negotiation process starts. Sometimes, there will be “breakout” sessions, also referred to as a caucus, where the mediator will meet with each party separately. This allows each side to speak without the other side hearing certain information they aren’t comfortable sharing.
Cases with Mediation
While any case going in front of Superior Court must first go through mediation, what does that mean for your case?
Mediation can be used in the following types of cases:
- Personal injury
- Medical negligence
- Wrongful termination
- Debt collection
- Breach of contract
- Estate administration
- Divorce and family law
Nearly any civil proceeding in which one party is seeking a settlement, monetary compensation, or property from another party outside of criminal court can go through mediation first.
What Does the Mediator Do?
The mediator isn’t a judge and isn’t there to make decisions or provide a judgment. Instead, they are only there to facilitate a discussion and hopefully, an agreement or compromise. They may do this by exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the case, providing options to reach a compromise, and helping each side see the others’ viewpoint. If the parties do reach an agreement or a settlement, the mediator will put the terms into a document to be signed by both parties and their legal representation.
Benefits of Mediation in Civil Cases
While many plaintiffs and defendants would prefer to skip the mediation and move to court in an attempt to win the case, mediation often works out well for both sides. Consider these benefits to finding a solution through mediation:
- It’s less expensive than litigation
- It’s faster and can often be completed in a day or two compared to weeks of a court case
- Both parties walk away with some type of compromise – neither side wins nor loses
- Quickly resolves situations where one party may have an unrealistic or unlikely expectation
- Both parties split the cost of the mediation and can select a mediator or allow the court to appoint one
Call Our Mediator in Raleigh for Civil Mediation
If you need a mediator for a civil case or for family law, we can help. Attorney Joseph Howell is an experienced mediator with decades of experience in litigation, providing him with the insight to help clients reach a settlement that’s beneficial to all involved. To learn more, reach out to him today at 919-615-2473 or fill out the form below to get started.
Information presented on this website should not be construed as formal legal advice or the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Additionally, any email sent to Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, L.L.P. or any of its lawyers at the email addresses set forth in this website will not create an attorney-client relationship.
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