What is Mediation in a Personal Injury Case?
By Administrator | | Personal Injury
Most personal injury cases settle but reaching a settlement can be a difficult process. Each side in a personal injury case might be far apart in terms of how much they think the claim is worth. Mediation is a process for breaking down disagreement and allowing each side to find common ground. When successful, mediation results in a signed settlement agreement which the parties can file with the court. The Jackson Law Group has participated in many mediations, and we highlight key points below.
How Mediation Works
Mediation typically involves three people:
The plaintiff: the innocent person injured in the crash
The defendant: the person accused of causing the accident
Both the plaintiff and defendant can have lawyers and insurance adjusters present in mediation, so the number of people participating could be quite high.
Everyone meets in a conference room, either at the courthouse or the mediator’s office. This is a safe, confidential environment. The purpose is to discuss the case and identify the areas of disagreement. In a personal injury case, money is usually the issue most in dispute—how much the defendant should pay the plaintiff for their injuries.
In the lead up to mediation, each side probably talked with the mediator or filled out paperwork. This information is necessary so that the mediator has a sense of the dispute.
During the mediation process, the mediator might send one side to a different room and then shuttle between them. This is called “caucusing” and it helps push each side to finally reach an agreement.
The Role of the Mediator
Two people can meet to discuss a dispute on their own, but a mediator plays an important role in facilitating negotiation. For example, the mediator:
Remains neutral. He or she doesn’t pick a side but instead analyzes the case objectively.
Encourages each side to really listen to the other. Miscommunication often frustrates reaching an agreement.
Guides discussion so people don’t get sidetracked with irrelevant disputes or issues that they’ve already decided.
Proposes creative solutions to resolving the dispute.
Prompts each side to consider what they might get if they go to trial, which is the next step if negotiations falter.
The mediator isn’t a judge who “decides” the case. But with the right mediator, you can find common ground with the other side and finally get your case resolved.
Is Mediation Right for You?
There are many benefits. Mediation can provide the “push” each side needs to reach an agreement and finally settle the dispute without risk of a trial. Mediation is also confidential and relatively painless. If you can finally settle, you can avoid expensive litigation. Judges often refer cases to mediation with court-certified mediators.
Mediation doesn’t always succeed, however. Sometimes each side is just too far apart even after multiple mediation sessions. In that case, you might need to take your chances in front of a judge and jury.
The Jackson Law Group Can Assist
We understand the critical importance of mediation and can guide our clients through the process. Call us today to learn more.