During mediation, the parties involved in a dispute come together with a neutral third person, known as the mediator, and discuss the situation until a mutually satisfactory solution of their conflict has been met. The mediator is trained to help the opposing sides come to a solution but does not make any decisions or give an opinion. Until a dispute becomes an actual lawsuit, mediation is voluntary and may only occur if both sides request it. A settlement of the dispute through mediation is reached only if both sides agree to it, just like any other settlement. The mediation space is a safe zone as nothing either party says during mediation can be used in later stages of the dispute, especially if a settlement is not reached. Mediation is a good tool if you have reached an impasse in negotiations with an insurance company or another party over the settlement of your personal injury claim.
Mediation and Personal Injury
Mediations in personal injury cases follow a basic structure, though they can vary slightly. Each party will speak to the mediator in the presence of the other party. Each party also gets to speak directly to the other party with the mediator facilitating the interchange. Finally, each party will also speak with the mediator alone.
The mediator will use the information gathered from both parties to help each side change their position enough to reach a settlement. The mediator will not reveal what either party says in confidence. During mediation there are no restrictions on what can be discussed or how facts and opinions are presented, making it a completely open and safe space.
Mediation has several potential advantages when it is applied to personal injury cases. When preparing for mediation you need no documents or arguments that you do not already have. You simply show up and talk with a third, neutral person. Sitting across from the adjuster or other party also helps by putting a face on the claim file. An adjuster may be more likely to give you a reasonable settlement when sitting across from you than if he or she never speaks with you in person. The greatest benefit from mediation is getting the mediator to encourage a break in the deadlock of settlement negotiations.
However, there can also be negative aspects to mediating a personal injury claim. Using a professional mediator can be expensive, and the cost is often split between the two parties. It can also be difficult to get an insurance adjuster to agree to mediation. However, when you weigh the pros and cons of mediation against the pros and cons of going to trial, mediation may be something to consider.
When to Use Mediation
There are certain instances when mediation may be appropriate. Consider mediation if the other party and you disagree on the extent of your injury and/or what degree each party was at fault for the accident. These are very important points in your personal injury case and should be settled to ensure fair compensation for damages. You may also want to consider mediation if you and the other party are stalemated more than $2,000 apart in settlement negotiations and/or there are no negotiating moves left.
In some states you may not have a choice about mediation, as judges can rule that those involved in a personal injury case undergo mediation before they can appear before a jury. This does not ensure the mediation will be successful but it does encourage both parties to settle out of court.
Seeking Help from a Personal Injury Attorney
Mediation can be a great way to keep your personal injury case from going to trial, saving you time and money. However, whether you are considering mediation or not, it is important to seek the help of a personal injury attorney. Your personal injury attorney will work for you to help you build a personal injury case. Along with gathering evidence and preparing you for depositions and mediation, your personal injury attorney can represent you if your case goes to trial. Rather than taking on the burden of preparing your case and representing yourself, seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. If you or a loved one has been injured due to negligence, your personal injury attorney will fight for your just compensation for damages.