(1)(a) In any claim filed with an insurer for personal injury in an amount of $10,000 or less or any claim for property damage in any amount, arising out of the ownership, operation, use, or maintenance of a motor vehicle, either party may demand mediation of the claim prior to the institution of litigation.
Terms Used In Florida Statutes 627.745
(b) A request for mediation shall be filed with the department on a form approved by the department. The request for mediation shall state the reason for the request for mediation and the issues in dispute which are to be mediated. The filing of a request for mediation tolls the applicable time requirements for filing suit for a period of 60 days following the conclusion of the mediation process or the time prescribed in s. 95.11, whichever is later.
(c) The insurance policy must specify in detail the terms and conditions for mediation of a first-party claim.
(d) The mediation shall be conducted as an informal process in which formal rules of evidence and procedure need not be observed. Any party participating in a mediation must have the authority to make a binding decision. All parties must mediate in good faith.
(e) The department shall randomly select mediators. Each party may once reject the mediator selected, either originally or after the opposing side has exercised its option to reject a mediator.
(f) Costs of mediation shall be borne equally by both parties unless the mediator determines that one party has not mediated in good faith.
(g) Only one mediation may be requested for each claim, unless all parties agree to further mediation.
(2) Upon receipt of a request for mediation, the department shall refer the request to a mediator. The mediator shall notify the applicant and all interested parties, as identified by the applicant, and any other parties the mediator believes may have an interest in the mediation, of the date, time, and place of the mediation conference. The conference may be held by telephone, if feasible. The mediation conference shall be held within 45 days after the request for mediation.
(3)(a) The department shall approve mediators to conduct mediations pursuant to this section. All mediators must file an application under oath for approval as a mediator.
(b) To qualify for approval as a mediator, an individual must meet one of the following qualifications:
1. Possess an active certification as a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit court mediator. A Florida Supreme Court certified circuit court mediator in a lapsed, suspended, sanctioned, or decertified status is not eligible to participate in the mediation program.
2. Be an approved department mediator as of July 1, 2014, and have conducted at least one mediation on behalf of the department within 4 years immediately preceding that date.
(4) The department shall deny an application, or suspend or revoke its approval, of a mediator to serve in such capacity if the department finds that one or more of the following grounds exist:
(a) Lack of one or more of the qualifications specified in this section for approval.
(b) Material misstatement, misrepresentation, or fraud in obtaining or attempting to obtain the approval.
(c) Demonstrated lack of fitness or trustworthiness to act as a mediator.
(d) Fraudulent or dishonest practices in the conduct of mediation or in the conduct of business in the financial services industry.
(e) Violation of any provision of this code or of a lawful order or rule of the department, violation of the Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, or aiding, instructing, or encouraging another party in committing such a violation.
The department may adopt rules to administer this subsection.
(5) The department must adopt rules of procedure for claims mediation, taking into consideration a system which:
(a) Is fair.
(b) Promotes settlement.
(c) Avoids delay.
(d) Is nonadversarial.
(e) Uses a framework for modern mediating technique.
(f) Controls costs and expenses of mediation.
(6) Disclosures and information divulged in the mediation process are not admissible in any subsequent action or proceeding relating to the claim or to the cause of action giving rise to the claim. A person demanding mediation under this section may not demand or request mediation after a suit is filed relating to the same facts already mediated.