General Sessions Civil Court is Tennessee's version of a "small claims court," where a person or organization can sue another for up to $25,000.
The General Sessions Court of Hamilton County, Tennessee is involved because it is one of the sponsors of this program, which allows people to come to agreements about their disputes without having to first file a lawsuit or go to court.
Please note, this website is not General Sessions Court, you have not been sued and you are not in court. The ODR process is voluntary, and you do not have to participate. Also, you do not need a lawyer to use this program, but you may use one if you want.
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is a process, for the parties involved in a dispute, to resolve the issues with the help of a neutral third party outside of the courtroom. This website is limited only to medical debt disputes.
Why try ODR to negotiate with the other party prior to going to court?
The ODR process allows for a conversation to be facilitated with Erlanger (your creditor) before anything is ever filed in court. ODR provides you with the flexibility to try to settle your matter on your own time, quickly and easily online, all without going to court. At this point in your case, nothing has been filed in court.
In general, most cases filed in court are resolved without a trial, and many people go to the courthouse to reach a settlement on the date of a hearing or trial.
There is no cost to participate in ODR during this Pilot Program. All fees have been paid for by a generous grant from the State Justice Institute ( https://www.sji.gov/priority-investment-areas/ ) and the Tennessee Supreme Courtís Access To Justice Commission ( https://www.tncourts.gov/programs/access-justice/access-justice-commission-0 )
The mediator is a neutral party, which means the mediator does not work for you or for the other party. The mediator cannot give you legal advice, and he or she will not take "sides." The mediator is there simply to help think of potential resolutions to which everyone can agree.
The ODR process cannot begin until you register. Registration should be completed within two weeks of receiving the invitation email. After registration is completed, the ODR process can only be completed by responding and engaging with the other parties.
After you setup a username and password, you will land in your "Conversations" tab also known as your negotiation space. Here, you will leave a message for the provider that has contacted you. You can use your negotiation space to "chat" about a solution.
You will also receive a text message and email when there is new information waiting for you in your negotiation space.
If you reach an agreement through ODR, a Settlement Agreement will be created and you can sign it online.
If you are reading this online, you already have everything you'll need to resolve your dispute. ODR works just as well on any mobile device that can access the internet. Just go to the site on your device's web browser to access it just like you would on a desktop or laptop computer.
I don't have an email address, how can I get one for free?
You do not need to know your account number to participate in ODR. After registering, you only need to remember your email address and login information.
If you have not been invited to participate in ODR, but you would like to participate, please request an invitation by email to ODR@erlanger.org. Be sure to include your name, date of birth and the last four digits of your social security number.
You first need to be logged into the ODR site in order to access your negotiation space. Once logged in, you will need to click on the "Conversations" tab and it will place you in the negotiation space where you can engage with the other party.
Who can see my "Conversation" in the negotiation space?
The negotiation space is private to you and the other party, the mediator, and the system administrator. No one else has the ability to view your conversation. With very limited exceptions, such as threatening harm to another person, all discussions are confidential and cannot be used in court.
Once a mediator is involved, you will have a private space to discuss the dispute only with the mediator.
Participants generally find that negotiating outside of the court is more useful when they are prepared and have a plan. Having a plan means that you have identified your goals, assessed what the other party's goals might be, and considered several possible settlement options that might work for you, as well as the other party. Thinking through these things in advance will help you and the other participant reach an agreement that works for everyone.
Who will have access to my confidential information?
Information about your medical debt may include your account number, date of service, service location and account balance. You will have to agree to let the other party share that information in the negotiation space.
The negotiation space will be seen by the mediator, administrator, and anyone else with access to your account.
You agree to this by checking the box during registration.
Will I have to sign anything as part of using the site?
A signed Settlement Agreement is considered a binding contract, so you should make sure that you are satisfied with your agreement before signing it. ODR is voluntary, so only sign an agreement that you think you can stick to.
If you are unable to pay the agreed settlement amount, you can request that the other party re-mediate the Settlement Agreement, or you can attempt to undo the Settlement Agreement by filing a lawsuit. You can also petition a judge to vacate your agreement in certain circumstances or address the matter in bankruptcy.