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Shapiro & Appleton

Is Mediation Mandatory in Virginia?

Virginia Beach personal injury lawyers with experience mediating cases.Whether you’re going through a divorce or having a dispute with another party, you may want to know what’s legally required. Will you be allowed to fight your case in court or forced to resolve the matter in an alternative dispute resolution forum? Read on to learn more.

What the Law Says

According to Virginia Code § 8.01-576.5:

While protecting the right to trial by jury, a court, on its own motion or on motion of one of the parties, may refer any contested civil matter, or selected issues in a civil matter, to an orientation session in order to encourage the early resolution of disputes through the use of procedures that facilitate (i) open communication between the parties about the issues in the dispute, (ii) full exploration of the range of options to resolve the dispute, (iii) improvement in the relationship between the parties, and (iv) control by the parties over the outcome of the dispute. The neutral or intake specialist conducting the orientation session shall provide information regarding dispute resolution options available to the parties, screen for factors that would make the case inappropriate for a dispute resolution proceeding, and assist the parties in determining whether their case is suitable for a dispute resolution process such as mediation. The court shall set a date for the parties to return to court in accordance with its regular docket and procedure, irrespective of the referral to an orientation session. The parties shall notify the court, in writing, if the dispute is resolved prior to the return date.

This means that while a judge has the discretion to recommend mediation for civil cases, mediation is typically not required. Judges have the right to refer parties to a dispute resolution orientation session. This session is free of charge and is simply an informational meeting to help the parties understand what mediation entails and how it can potentially help their case. The parties, however, can opt out the informational session and are not obligated to move forward with mediation if they do not wish to do so. Any alternative dispute resolution they may choose is voluntary and not required by the State of Virginia.

Our firm has extensive experience mediating serious personal injury and wrongful death claims. For example, we have successfully mediated cases including:

  • $3.5 million recovered in a truck accident wrongful death case that was mediated between the parties.
  • A wrongful death at a railroad crossing where our client’s family member was hit by a train in his truck as his son in the vehicle following behind saw his father die before his eyes,
  • A wrongful death case where the client’s husband was killed by a delivery truck driver who slid into him on a shoulder of the highway losing control of his vehicle,
  • A medical malpractice case in which a doctor’s mistake killed a wife, a F.E.L.A. lawsuit in which a railroad conductor had post-traumatic stress disorder and two knee surgeries as a result of a collision between two trains, among other injury and wrongful death matters. 

If you or a loved one was seriously harmed in an accident caused by another party, contact our law firm to learn more about your legal options.

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