Whenever you are involved in a legal dispute, don't assume that small claims court should be your first stop. You should also know that you have other options, despite the fact that many people use small claims court on a regular basis. Before you commit to it, it could be in your best interest to investigate these alternatives.
Numerous different factors go into determining the cost of each of these options. You have to remember that your time should be valued as part of the cost, too. One of the primary reasons mediation outweighs small claims court is that spending more of your own time in small claims court may not be in your best interest. You should look into all of your options before committing to one because small claims courts offer free mediation services to help reduce the number of cases going to trial in small claims court.
There are typically three different ways you can think about cost in mediation cases: the fees charged by the mediator selected by the disputing parties, any fees that are charged by a mediation institution, and any direct costs for the party, such as travel costs or other out of pocket expenses you may incur. To officially file a small claims case, you would need to pay a fee ranging from $30 and a few hundred dollars, depending on the institution.
The cost of a mediator, should you choose to hire one, will be split between you and the other party. A mediator's range depends on their background and experience. For example, a mediator may charge more for his or her time if he or she has special certifications and extensive training and experience in a particular field. You can expect to pay between $70 and $400 per hour for a mediator, but remember that this will be split by you and the other party, so it may end up being much less expensive than you think, especially if you gain the added benefit of time.
When budgeting, factor in the cost of retaining an attorney as well as the cost of filing any documents. Another significant cost saving, especially when compared with litigation, is that you don't necessarily need an attorney for small claims court or for mediation. When you want to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, having to prepare your case and wait for it to be scheduled in court can be frustrating. If this is the case for you, mediation may help you resolve the issue more efficiently and allow you to get back to your life.
Met Wilson is a mediator and arbitrator practicing in Portland, Oregon specializing on commercial disputes, claims against broker-dealers, consumer claims, real property disputes, franchise disputes, employee claims, construction claims, contract claims, insurance coverage disputes and business torts. For assistance in any of these areas, please call Met Wilson at 503-972-5090 or visit http://wilsonadr.com/