Personal Injury Attorney Ben Schwartz gives information to a viewer who has a personal injury case and wants to know, what is the difference between mediation and arbitration? The answer is that the two things really have nothing to do with one another. Mediation is a settlement conference and arbitration is a mini-trial.
I’m attorney Ben Schwartz,
Today we are going to answer a viewer question from Caleb in Havre de Grace, Maryland. He said essentially, he’s got a personal injury case and wants to know, what is the difference between mediation and arbitration? The answer is that the two things really have nothing to do with one another. Mediation is a settlement conference. It’s a conference where you and your attorney, if you’re represented, you and your attorney go to the mediator’s office and the defense attorney and the defendant or the insurance company that is going to be paying the settlement goes to the mediator’s office too.
The mediator is generally another attorney that has nothing to do with a case. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an attorney but generally, it is an attorney or a retired judge. The mediator meets with both sides, that’s called caucusing with both sides and the mediator tries to bring both sides together to bring about a settlement. This is something that happens all the time. In fact, just this morning, in a serious personal injury case resulting from a car accident, I served as the mediator and I successfully brought the two parties together, the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s attorney, and the defense attorney and the insurance company representative. I brought the two sides together and we settled that case.
So, sometimes I serve as a mediator, I also sometimes serve as an arbitrator and arbitration is a completely different animal. It is not a settlement conference at all. Arbitration is a mini-trial but instead of going to court and having a judge and a jury, the parties to the case, the plaintiff, and the defendant pick a neutral lawyer to serve as the judge and jury. They go to that arbitrator’s office, they provide the arbitrator with the documentation. Let’s say if it is a personal injury case, they would provide the arbitrator with records and reports talking about the injuries that came from the accident. They might provide a copy of the police report if it’s a car accident case. They might give the arbitrator photos of the vehicles so the arbitrator can see where the damage was so that the arbitrator can determine how the accident happened.
Then the arbitrator listens to both sides testify and the arbitrator makes a decision. The arbitrator either says, I find in favor of the plaintiff or I find in favor of the defendant. If in favor of the plaintiff, then the arbitrator has to award damages. Meaning, the arbitrator has to award the plaintiff some amount of compensation. In arbitration cases, arbitrations are typically binding or non-binding. So, a binding arbitration, once the arbitrator issues the decision that’s it. The case is over, the parties are stuck with that decision. If it is a non-binding arbitration, then whoever doesn’t agree with this arbitrator’s order can appeal it. Then if you appeal it, it typically starts the case over as if you didn’t go to arbitration. Now, you are going to be on the trial track for a trial with a judge in court or a trial with the jury in court.
That is the difference between mediation and arbitration. It is the difference between an informal settlement conference versus an informal trial in a lawyer’s office. Caleb, I hope that answers your question. If you are watching this video and you have law-related questions for me send me an email. I am happy to give you any kind of information; I can give you a general background education on how things work in personal injury cases, wrongful death cases, criminal cases. I will do whatever I can to help you get the information that you need to understand how things work and understand what your rights are.
Thanks for watching! If you have questions shoot me an email, I’m attorney Ben Schwartz.