Mediation Explained (Mediation vs. Arbitration)

Mediation puzzle pieceOur last blog featured a discussion of arbitration and its many forms. Here, we will discuss mediation, a concept often conflated with arbitration.

The Difference Between Mediation and Arbitration (and what about “Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)”?)

In arbitration, an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators decides a case. Mediation is completely different. Mediation uses a mediator to help the parties resolve the case themselves.

In arbitration, the arbitrator(s) is (are) actively involved in the details of the case, hearing evidence, ruling on objections, reviewing documents, and evaluating witnesses, before rendering a decision/award.

With mediation, the mediator takes a more neutral approach, discussing the theories of the case, what each side is seeking, and helping them arrive at a compromise.

Alternative Dispute Resolution — or ADR — refers generally to various ways of resolving a dispute outside the courtroom. Both arbitration and mediation are ADR methods.

Who Can Be a Mediator in Illinois?

Most states have some standards for who can be an arbitrator, and there are licensing and certification entities. But if the parties agree, nearly anyone can serve as a mediator. It can be a judge, retired judge, or someone from a non-legal background.

Often, retired judges are the most prized mediators due to their experience in helping resolve cases in pretrials.

Nuts and Bolts of Mediation

There are countless and virtually unlimited methods for mediating. I will address some of the most common:

  • Shuttle diplomacy. The mediator talks to both parties to get the basics, then separates the parties and literally goes back and forth between them. This can go on for hours or even days until both parties are satisfied and have agreed upon a solution.
  • Formal mediation. Both parties present their brief version of the case, what they want, and why they should get it. The mediator may question both parties with all present.
  • Telephone, Email, or Skype. Yes, it is possible to mediate nearly anything via phone, Skype, or email.
  • Mediation can be binding or non-binding, and can also involve high-low agreements, just like its cousin, arbitration.

Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman

As with any legal questions, your best option is to contact a lawyer immediately.

As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a personal injury lawyer.

If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has nearly 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.

Stephen handles personal injury and workers' compensation claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything upfront and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day, contact Stephen now.

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