The Commonwealth of Virginia has not yet made mandatory mediation a condition to a formal hearing in court in all jurisdictions. However, Virginia residents do have the option of submitting their lawsuits to alternative dispute resolution processes, including mediation. Lawyers for personal injury clients, including Norfolk’s Rutter Mills, might recommend mediation to speed the resolution of a lawsuit.
This can help accident victims avoid the prolonged stress that often accompanies trials. In all cases, a client should not choose mediation without a full understanding of the process and how it differs from trying a case.
What is the Mediation Process?
With mediation, the parties will select, or a judge will appoint a neutral third party who will hear both sides of the case. They then will make recommendations to settle the dispute. The parties can choose to settle the lawsuit per the mediator’s recommended terms and conditions, or they can continue to negotiate a settlement on different terms. Further, they can reject all of the above, and take it to trial.
Does Virginia Have Mandatory Mediation?
In some of these locals, settlement conferences are mandatory before trial. When not mandatory, judges in both state and federal courts might recommend or urge those parties to consider it. In general, litigants will always have the right to reject meditations and settlement offers and to take their cases to trial.
However, in commercial disputes where the parties have a prior agreement to resolve disputes by mediation or arbitration, a court can enforce it. They can require the parties to mediate or arbitrate their argument before the court will proceed with the case.
What are the Benefits of Mediation?
Proponents of mediation point to several benefits:
- better control over the process by the parties;
- confidentiality, with no arguments or opinions being expressed in open court;
- quicker resolution of disputes;
- fewer demands on everyone’s time;
- settlements that satisfy both parties with workable solutions that are easy to implement.
In accident cases, personal injury lawyers will often summarize these and other benefits that are specific to a particular case to help a client decide whether to submit a lawsuit to mediation– before taking it to trial.
How Are Mediation Settlements Enforced?
When parties to a lawsuit have reached a settlement agreement, either independently or through mediation, they typically execute an agreement. It describes the terms and conditions, which includes an obligation to dismiss any lawsuits. In some cases, a party might request a court order that can then be enforced– if the other party fails to follow the settlement terms.
Contact us at Rutter Mills Today
For more than 50 years, the personal injury lawyers at Rutter Mills in Norfolk have represented accident victims in the Hampton Roads Metro Area. We work to recover the maximum damages for our clients. Please see our website or call us directly for a complimentary consultation about your accident case. See if mediation is a good option to resolve that case quickly.
- www.courts.state.va.us: Virginia’s Judicial System – Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.courts.state.va.us/courtadmin/aoc/djs/programs/drs/mediation/faq.html
- www.mediate.com: Mandatory Mediation: A Comparative Review of How Legislatures in California and Ontario are Mandating the Peacemaking Process in Their Adversarial Systems. https://www.mediate.com/articles/WinestoneJ4.cfm
- www.lawserver.com: Virginia Code 8.01-576.5: Referral of Disputes to Dispute Resolution Proceedings. https://www.lawserver.com/law/state/virginia/va-code/virginia_code_8-01-576-5
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