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- What is a mediation?
- For centuries, lawyers have negotiated cases on behalf of their clients. In 1998, the British Columbia government passed the "Notice to Mediate Regulation," which gives injured people a valuable tool in their arsenal for negotiating certain cases.
After you have sued, and up to 77 days before your trial date, either ICBC's lawyer or your lawyer may deliver to the other side a form called a ‘Notice to Mediate. ' The lawyers agree on an independent mediator in whom they both have confidence, and then set a date for the mediation. The cost of the mediation is borne equally by each side. You may claim reimbursement of this cost as part of your settlement or court award.
Sometimes ICBC uses a Notice to Mediate to force you to attend a mediation before you are ready to try to settle your claim. You may be experiencing ongoing problems, or you may want to wait until a medical specialist is able to give a prediction of your long-term future. You may have no choice but to attend the mediation, but you don't have to settle at the mediation unless you want to.
Seven days before the mediation, each side must deliver a written mediation brief. You and your lawyer will meet to read and discuss the mediation briefs from both sides and thoroughly prepare for the mediation.
The mediation starts with both lawyers giving a brief opening statement. Then both sides informally discuss the issues of the claim. The adjuster will often ask the injured person a number of questions to get a feeling for how the injured person would present in court. Often, it's the first time the adjuster has met the injured person, as ICBC usually appoints a new adjuster after a claimant hires a lawyer.
The next phase of the mediation is the exchange of offers and counter-offers. Between each counter-offer, one of the two sides goes into a separate "breakout room. " Then each side confidentially discusses their position and negotiating strategy with their lawyer. Negotiations may continue over the next hour to several hours. A good mediator can make a real difference in achieving a fair settlement.
Most of the time a settlement is reached by the end of the mediation. If your case does not settle at the mediation, negotiations may continue at a later date. If the two sides cannot arrive at a settlement agreement, your case proceeds to trial.
Many less serious cases settle without mediation.