Differences Between Arbitration and Mediation in South Carolina
Arbitration and mediation are two methods that makeup what’s known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Mediation and arbitration are commonly utilized in a variety of legal matters, including car accidents and other personal injury claims, business litigation disputes, and even divorce.
Typically, personal injury and car accident claims start out with both sides trying to negotiate a fair settlement. If negotiations stall or a settlement cannot be reached, the next step is usually to file a lawsuit and/or consider another form of alternative dispute resolution like mediation or arbitration.
In the event, you have a personal injury matter that has reached an impasse in negotiations, here is what you should know before agreeing to mediation or arbitration. Be advised, if a case proceeds to litigation in South Carolina, it is now mandated by the courts that all civil cases must undergo a mandatory ADR process.
What is Mediation in South Carolina?
Mediation can be an effective tool in resolving a case but is only as effective as the mediator. In order to have a successful mediation, you must have a reputable and trustworthy mediator who can remain neutral and impartial. This means the mediator cannot be a party to the case nor can he or she be an attorney for either party. The mediator must remain neutral and show no bias for one side or the other. The mediator uses this impartiality to help facilitate a discussion and hopefully reach a settlement that helps keep the case from proceeding further along in the court system.
A mediator does not coerce or force either side to take a settlement offer. The parties are the ones who ultimately control the outcome. The mediator cannot force either side to settle, but they can try to keep both parties going forward in the negotiation process in hopes of resolving the case.
If the parties decide not to settle and go forward with litigation, neither side is bound by the mediator’s perceived case value and the mediation is kept confidential.
What is Arbitration in South Carolina?
Arbitration is a more formal process and more structured than a mediation. A qualified arbitrator is appointed to the case who hears both sides’ arguments as to why the case should be settled in their favor for a particular amount. Once the parties have presented their arguments, the arbitrator will render a decision. In most cases, the decision is not rendered immediately.
There are two types of arbitration: binding and non-binding. Non-binding means parties are not bound by the arbitrator’s decision. In a binding arbitration, the parties are bound by the arbitrator’s decision, and the case does not advance towards obtaining a trial date. Arbitration is sometimes used in lieu of filing a lawsuit as well.
Retaining a Rock Hill, SC Personal Injury Attorney
If you need more information about mediation and arbitration, or you’ve been in an accident and need a South Carolina personal injury attorney, contact the Elrod Pope Law Firm. Our knowledgeable team is experienced in all areas of personal injury law. Contact us online or at 803-599-3080 to schedule a consultation.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.