Mediation in Atlanta Personal Injury Cases

In recent years, all throughout Atlanta, mediation has been growing more and more popular as a means of resolving legal claims, particularly in personal injury and workers' compensation cases. Mediation is a form of "Alternative Dispute Resolution" that gives the injured person an opportunity to resolve his or her claim against the insurance company without going to a jury trial or to a hearing in front of a Judge. So, when the injured person and the insurance company come to a mediation intending to reach a fair settlement, mediation provides an opportunity to settle the claim that is less expensive, much faster, and much less stressful than going to a trial or hearing.

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Understanding the Mediation Process

Mediation is held at a Mediator's office or at the State Board of Workers' Compensation in workers' comp cases, although it can also be held at the offices of an attorney representing one of the parties in the case. The mediator will be an attorney with a lot of experience in personal injury and/or workers' compensation, who has obtained special training to be certified as a neutral mediator with the State of Georgia. The mediator is not an advocate for any party; instead, the mediator is a neutral, whose job is to work with both parties to reach a resolution of the claim.

All mediations begin with both parties present in the same room, where the mediator will describe the mediation process for the injured person, and then give both parties a chance to present their side of the case. The parties will then separate into two different rooms, and the mediator will go back and forth between the two rooms, carrying settlement offers and information back and forth between the two parties in an effort to reach a final settlement or to resolve the issue.

Mediation for Personal Injury vs. Workers' Comp

Mediation is basically the same process in personal injury claims as it is in workers' compensation claims. Private mediators can be used for a fee, which is most often paid by the insurance company. What is different about workers' compensation claims is that they are handled by the State Board of Workers' Compensation, as opposed to the regular court system in Georgia.

The State Board of Workers' Compensation has an Alternative Dispute Resolution unit that provides mediations free of charge in workers' compensation claims. It also has offices throughout the state where mediations can be conducted, and the State Board will provide the mediator from its ADR staff, who will travel to a State Board office near the injured worker for the mediation.

Another difference between personal injury and workers' compensation claims is that in personal injury claims, mediation is always used to try to reach a final settlement. In workers' compensation claims, while settlement mediations are also very common, mediation can also be used to resolve other issues, for example a change of treating physicians for the injured worker.

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Mediation provides an excellent opportunity to reach a final settlement in a comfortable and low stress process, without the time, stress, and expense of going to a trial or hearing. In recent years, many more mediations have been conducted in both types of claims, and in workers' compensation claims, far fewer matters are going all the way to a hearing in front of a Judge as a result.

At Douglas F. Kaleita, P.C., we have more than 26 years of experience mediating both workers' compensation and personal injury claims. We work hard to deliver the best representation and service to each of our clients and we offer a more personal approach to working with our clients. We're confident that you will feel well cared for and well informed about the status of your case.

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