The Role of Mediation in Pedestrian Accidents

Mediation is where either of the parties involved in the claim—the at-fault party or the injured party— prior to or during the litigation process goes before a third party for assistance in resolving the claim. There are private mediators that conduct mediation who are paid. There are court mediators through the litigation process who are volunteers, although the parties can also hire a mediator. In all instances, the mediator is a third party that is hired to bring the parties together.

Each side presents their side to the mediator. Many times, the parties are separated and the mediator shuttles back and forth between the two parties, but the whole idea is to have the mediator assist the expectations and desires of the parties and their attorneys to try to forge a resolution of the claim. The role of the mediator is to bridge the gap and reach a meeting of the minds such that a case can settle as opposed to having to go forward either with a lawsuit being filed or, if already filed, going forward with the case having to be tried.

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact our Maryland pedestrian accident attorney to talk about your case, and see if mediation is the right answer.

Its Role in Pedestrian Accident Cases

In a pedestrian accident case, there may be issues of liability, such as proving liability against the driver, for example. There may be issues of the conduct of the pedestrian and the reasonableness of that person’s conduct. And there may be issues of the injuries as to the extent, nature, permanency, and severity of injuries. There may be an issue regarding causation, as to whether all of the injuries claimed are related to the collision itself.

If people cannot reach a settlement on their own, even if there are not significant disputes, then a very good and common way of trying to resolve the disputes is to have a third-party mediator. Typically, this is a lawyer or judge experienced in these cases to help the parties reach an agreement to settle the case. Generally speaking, from the perspective of the courts and from the perspective of the parties, by proceeding with mediation, each party can get a result that is certain.

The case is concluded with certainty by participating in the decision-making, as opposed to going through a trial and having a judge or jury be the sole decision maker. That is the role and benefit of mediation in a pedestrian accident case.

The Mediator

The parties can at any time, even prior to filing a lawsuit, decide by agreement, in the interest of the parties who are trying to resolve a case, to hire a person who holds himself out as a mediator to assist with the resolution of the claim. There are companies who have a number of mediators, as well as individuals who call themselves mediators.

Typically, mediators have been through courses and training to become mediators. Some of the most effective mediators are not only those who have been trained, but who have the experience of practicing in that area of the law for a significant period of time. Another great option is retired judges who have been on the bench and seen many, many cases over their years of being on the bench. Those are private mediators who the parties can hire to help them mediate the case. If it is a court-appointed mediation, there are typically only volunteer mediators in some jurisdictions.

In Maryland, in the court-ordered mediations, there are retired judges and practitioners who volunteer to help the courts try to get cases resolved. It is beneficial to the courts to get cases off their docket and it can be fairly effective in doing so. The two parties get together and flesh out their respective positions and see where the gap is between them. The mediator tries to bridge that gap and come up with solutions to try to get the parties to a meeting of the minds to resolve the case. However, the parties in litigation still have the ability to hire a third party mediator to assist with the resolution of the case as well.

Role of an Attorney in Mediation

A pedestrian accident attorney is invaluable in mediation because this is not a commonplace occurrence. People are not involved in collisions on a regular basis and often have not had any exposure to the legal process. There is a lot to learn with a lot of assumptions made about the process and the legal system that aren’t true.

Therefore, it is very important to be represented by an attorney so that the attorney can educate the plaintiff and offer the benefit of the years of experience and knowledge of the people involved. The insurance company, the adjusters, and the lawyers have the knowledge of the jurisdiction, the judges, what the jurors are like and the outcomes of trials in that jurisdiction.

People also have to understand that in these kinds of cases, there is no exposure to cost or fees unless and until there is a recovery. The person is doing themselves a disservice not to have representation for which there is no obligation unless and until there is a successful outcome, particularly since the at-fault party has the benefit of the insurance company, the insurance company adjuster, and the insurance company attorneys behind them. If you do not have an attorney, then you do not have a level playing field.

The Role of Mediation in Pedestrian Accidents