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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about mediation, arbitration, or the firm? If you do not find your answers here, consider contacting us.


Question: What is mediation?

Answer: Mediation is an attempt to settle a dispute, claim or case by using an intermediary to go between the disputing parties and help them negotiate a settlement.

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Question: What does a mediator do?

Answer: A mediator brings the parties together, meets with each side, and then relays information, offers and counter-offers between the parties. A mediator may also help the parties find common ground, help them carefully consider the factors in favor of settlement, and whether settlement is preferred to going to court.

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Question: Will the mediator force the parties to settle?

Answer: No. The parties decide whether to accept the offers made and whether to settle their case or claim.

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Question: What does a mediator NOT do?

Answer: A Mediator will not advise the parties what they should do. A Mediator will not give the parties legal advice. A mediator will not offer an opinion why one party or the other has a stronger position, or why an offer is good or bad. It is up to the party to seek a lawyer or counselor to explain such things and give the party legal advice.

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Question: What is arbitration?

Answer: Arbitration is like going to court, but less formal. An Arbitration is a Hearing where the Arbitrator acts as Judge and Jury. It is usually held in a conference room at a law firm. After the hearing, the Arbitrator decides who wins and who loses.

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Question: Is mediation the same as arbitration?

Answer: No. Mediation is about meeting to settle the case. Arbitration is about holding a hearing similar to going to Court.

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Question: Can Mediation and Arbitration be combined?

Answer: Yes. Although it is unusual, creative solutions have been used to bring cases to an end. The parties may agree that if Mediation does not bring a settlement, the Mediator may become an Arbitrator and award either side’s last offer, or render a decision somewhere between the last offers made by each party. Sometimes the Arbitrator may allow each side a few minutes to do a short closing argument before issuing an Award.

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Question: What is Online Mediation?

Answer: Online or E-Mediation as offered by Westlake Mediation & Arbitration is the same as a standard mediation, except that offers, counter-offers and other communications between the parties are done by secure e-mail through the Mediator.

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Question: What are the advantages of Online or E-Mediation?

Answer: The parties have more time to consider offers and counter-offers, or to get new authority, advise clients, or iron out other issues, such as medical liens. The parties participate from the comfort of their own offices over a few days or weeks rather than in person at a three or four hour meeting. The pressure to end the mediation in a few hours at an in-person meeting is done away with.

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Question: How much does Online Mediation cost?

Answer: Westlake Mediation & Arbitration charges 25% less for an online mediation than for a standard mediation. See our Fees page.

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Question: Why is mediation better than going to court?

Answer: Mediation is cheaper. Going to Court means paying expert witnesses to testify, and those witness fees can run into thousands of dollars. In addition, the Court can order the losing party to pay the other side’s costs in certain circumstances.

Mediation is private. Going to Court means a harrowing experience for both parties as they sit through a trial and have their lives exposed to the scrutiny of the public.

Mediation is less stressful. Going to Court means lawyers doing their best to cast the other party in less than flattering light.

Most cases that go to Mediation, settle. Going to Court is unpredictable. Even the best lawyers cannot predict the outcome of a trial.

Settlement through Mediation may provide some healing for both sides. While settlement means compromise, it also means both sides have agreed to resolve their differences and both are generally happy with the result.

Finally, going to Court is very much like combat; both sides get hurt in the process, and even the winner is generally less than satisfied with the result.

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Question: Is arbitration better than going to court?

Answer: Usually yes; the hearing is less formal and expert witness testimony is limited because the arbitrator already understands the issues. As a result, arbitration is usually cheaper than going to court.

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Question: Who is Mr. Westlake?

Answer: Kevin Westlake is an Arizona lawyer who has negotiated and settled thousands of personal injury cases over the past twenty years.

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Question: Why should I hire Westlake Mediation & Arbitration?

Answer: Mr. Westlake brings to the table his experience as a personal injury lawyer; he brings his knowledge of the settlement process and the issues that can block settlement efforts; he brings his knowledge of injuries, how they are caused and how they heal; and he brings his knowledge of the law.
But more than that, he brings twenty years experience as a negotiator, as an attorney who has spent his career negotiating personal injury cases.

Mr. Westlake understands that settling an injury case requires more than just each side getting the best deal from the opposing party. Sometimes the parties must also agree on other issues, including how medical and other liens will be satisfied, who is responsible if a lien holder unknown at settlement makes a claim after settlement, and how payment of the settlement will be made.

Finally, Mr. Westlake makes this promise: No firm will work harder to help you resolve your case and no one will treat the parties with more fairness.

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