Parker County Today August 2017 - Page 13

What is Mediation and Should You Partcipate By Troy Okruhlik Y the agreement of the parties. How long does it take and who pays the mediator’s fee? Mediation typically lasts a full day, although it can be shortened to a few hours or extended to multiple days depending on the number of parties and the complexity of the case. Generally, the parties split the mediator’s fee, although that can be altered by the agreement of the parties. Also, some organizations offer low cost mediations in an effort to try to get cases resolved and ease crowded court dockets. Does the mediation process work? In most circumstances, yes. Studies show that mediation is success- ful about 85% of the time. The success rate is generally the same regardless of whether the mediation is scheduled early or late in the litigation process. Is mediation the same as arbitration? No. You might hear the terms mediation and arbitration used inter- changeably, but they are two very different procedures. Arbitration more closely resembles a formal trial in which each side is allowed to present evidence and make arguments to a decision maker, who operates much like a judge. Generally, arbitration decisions are binding and cannot be appealed. Arbitrators are typically lawyers or former judges who are paid by the parties to hear the dispute and render a decision. Most cases that end up in arbitration do so because of a contract between the parties that stipulates that any dispute arising out of or related to the contract must be arbitrated. Texas courts favor arbitration provisions in contracts and unless there is an unusual extenuating circumstance, will order the parties to arbitrate the dispute when the contract requires arbitration. Is mediation right for my lawsuit? The decision to participate in mediation is an important decision to be thoroughly discussed with your attorney. Sometimes more information is needed to make informed decisions about whether to settle, and mediation may not be successful if the parties lack suffi- cient information. Also, some cases may not be capable of being settled until the court has ruled on certain discreet issues within the lawsuit. Timing and strategy play important roles in determining whether and when mediation is most likely to be successful. Troy Okruhlik is an attorney with Harris, Finley & Bogle, P.C., and is licensed to practice in Texas and Pennsylvania. He has been with HFB since graduating from Baylor Law School in 2001. His broad range of experience includes commercial litigation, oil and gas, real estate, insurance, contracts, professional liability defense, fiduciary litigation, and business torts. This article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue. ou have been sued. Those are words nobody wants to hear. Whether it is a multi-million dollar lawsuit or a simple fender-bender car accident, a lawsuit can be time- consuming, expensive, and stressful. Some of the stress results from anticipation of a formal trial. With trials, people often conjure visions of attorneys argu- ing with each other, witnesses testifying and getting cross- examined, and Perry Mason moments where a party or witness makes a stunning admission. Then a judge or a jury renders a verdict. One side wins, one side loses. However, studies show that more than 95% of lawsuits never reach trial. How do all of these cases get resolved? Some of the cases get dismissed by the court based on a motion brought by one of the parties, but most are resolved by a voluntary agree- ment reached by the parties. A settlement can substantially cut down on the stress, as well as the expenses, that would other- wise be incurred in a formal trial at the courthouse. 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