For those who might not be familiar with the concept, mediation is a process that involves two parties who are in a dispute discuss their positions with the help of a neutral party who has training and experience with facilitating negotiations. Both sides are free to stop mediating at any time and do not have to enter an agreement. Moreover, the process is confidential, so what gets discussed in mediation will not be brought up in court.
The goal of the mediation is, ultimately, to get the two parties to reach an agreement with which both sided can live. The agreement will keep the parties out of court, and they can go about their lives and businesses.
While mediation has been particularly promoted in the context of family law of late, many judges, lawyers and others favor the process in other types of disputes too. For example, mediation may be available or even court-ordered in a medical malpractice case.
In a mediation involving medical malpractice or, for that matter, any other insurance claim, the goal of the mediator will be to get the doctor's insurance company and the inured patient to agree on a dollar amount that will resolve the malpractice lawsuit.
The advantage to mediation is that it might give both sides some control over the process and, with that, a sense of certainty in the outcome. After all, while the two side are always free to enter an agreement, neither really knows for certain what a judge or jury will do. The other advantage to mediation is that it often ends a pending case early, saving time, resources and emotional stress. A patient can also get paid more quickly and move on with his or her life.
If there is a choice, the decision to mediate should be examined carefully and with the help of one's attorney. After all, the tradeoff to any mediation agreement is that neither side will get everything they want, so an injured person will need to make sure that what they agree to will cover their losses.