If you file a lawsuit in North Carolina, will you have to go to court, or will you have the opportunity to settle outside of court? Alternative dispute resolution is becoming more popular as states deal with crowded courtrooms. Will mediation be required for your North Carolina court case? Read on to see what North Carolina law says.
What the Law Says
According to North Carolina Code § 7A-38.1(A):
The General Assembly finds that a system of court-ordered mediated settlement conferences should be established to facilitate the settlement of superior court civil actions and to make civil litigation more economical, efficient, and satisfactory to litigants and the State. Therefore, this section is enacted to require parties to superior court civil actions and their representatives to attend a pretrial, mediated settlement conference conducted pursuant to this section and pursuant to rules of the Supreme Court adopted to implement this section.
Larger cases are filed in the Superior Court. In 1995, North Carolina required mandatory mediation for Superior Court cases. Mediation is a legal proceeding that follows rules by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission and North Carolina Supreme Court. Mediation is not as formal as a court trial and provides the parties a forum to discuss their issues and potentially come to a mutually agreeable resolution.
Mediation involves the parties meeting to discuss the personal injury case with a third party serving as the mediator. This person may be a retired judge, a lawyer, or someone certified in dispute resolution. They are typically chosen by the parties.
Mediators are there to help facilitate a discussion and offer an unbiased assessment of the case. They oftentimes discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the case and suggest settlement options, but they cannot give legal advice. Your Kitty Hawk personal injury lawyer will be there by your side and will present your case, in addition to analyzing any proposed settlement options.
Mediators cannot make any decisions for the parties. The parties must come to an agreement on their own. Once an agreement is made, it is put into writing and signed by the parties and their attorneys. The case is then dismissed by the court.
Our firm has experience with mediations and have reached successful settlements on behalf of clients. For example, our firm successfully mediated a $3.5 million wrongful death commercial trucking accident case. Learn more about this settlement here.