Can you use mediation for a small claims lawsuit? Many times mediation is thought of as something that happens with very large commercial disputes or litigation or even divorce cases. However, those are the only use cases for mediation. Mediation can actually be used in a small claims case. In fact, some courts require that mediation is performed prior to actually going to court for a small claims case. Why is that?
Well, many times a small claims case has more potential for being resolved through mediation. Think of the word small claims court. It’s something that’s smaller than a typical litigation case. If you have a $10 million lawsuit litigation, it’s more likely that the conflicts in that case or the details of that case are much more complicated. Mediation might not work in more complicated cases. With a small claims lawsuit, the case is usually pretty simple. Somebody damaged somebody else’s lawnmower or there was a car crash or somebody didn’t pay a debt. The facts of the case are pretty straightforward. In fact, think about all of the court TV shows that are on there like Judge Judy, they do a court case in 11 minutes, right? These are relatively simple cases.
A mediator is not the same as a judge a mediator is not an attorney, however, they can normally point out to both parties where they already agree on most of the case. There might only be one small part of the case that’s really still at issue and if you can take an $8,000 or $10,000 dispute and show agreement on 90% of it and really only boiled down to about an $800 dispute, many times there could be a resolution created for that small conflict that can keep the parties out of court.
Why do you want to stay out of court? Well, once you go to court, you are no longer in control of your destiny, the Judge is in control. The judge tells you what to do. With mediation, the mediator can tell you whatever their opinion is, but you don’t have to abide by it. You can tell them to pound sand and you can still go to court if you want, but at least you’re in control of your destiny and you can find a possible solution without having to take time off, go to court, pay an attorney, or maybe pay court fees. Mediation can help resolve most small claims cases. Even if you are the only party that’s interested in mediation you may be able to use a mediator to help resolve a case if the other party doesn’t even want to agree to mediation.
So yes, you can use mediation for a small claims lawsuit. In many cases, it can be more successful than in a larger more complicated legal dispute. And remember a mediator can’t give you legal advice, we’re not attorneys, but we can help guide the process to resolve a dispute or conflict or even a disagreement between two parties before it gets to court. Where again, you’re not in control of your destiny and now you’re putting yourself at the mercy of a judge who may or may not agree with all of your arguments.