What is mediation?
In personal injury cases, mediation is a dispute resolution strategy that seeks to ensure that both parties reach an agreement without a court’s involvement. The mediation process is usually led by a professional known as a mediator. The mediator is a neutral third party with no interest in the case other than helping both parties reach an agreement.
What Are the Benefits of Mediation for a Personal Injury Claim?
One of the greatest advantages of mediation for a personal injury claim is that it occurs in a less intimidating environment (out of court). Both parties involved in the negotiations choose a venue of their choice, ensuring they are as comfortable as possible.
Secondly, it allows both parties to have a face-to-face conversation about the claim. For example, the injured individual can meet the adjuster to discuss certain facts about the injury.
Mediation is also faster, easier, and less expensive than traditional court processes. In addition, it gives both parties so much freedom. For example, they can choose the mediator, including the venue of mediation, make the rules for mediation, etc.
What Are the Cons of Mediation in Personal Injury Cases?
Because mediation gives both parties so much freedom, sometimes it may be difficult to reach an agreement. This is the opposite of cases where the jury or judge is in charge.
Is Mediation for a Personal Injury Claim Compulsory?
Mediation is usually not compulsory. Both parties have the liberty to or not to choose this route. However, it is also worth noting that in some cases, the court might order mediation as a dispute resolution alternative if they believe such a process is best suited to solve a particular case.
When Is Mediation for a Personal Injury Claim Necessary?
The truth is that mediation does not suit every personal injury case. However, this alternative dispute resolution process might be necessary under the following circumstances:
- The injury victim (or their attorney) and the insurance claim adjuster are far apart in settlement negotiations.
- Negotiation does not seem to yield positive results
- Both parties cannot seem to agree on who was at fault for the accident and to what degree
- The other party disputes the extent of the injury sustained
Does Mediation Guarantee Settlement for a Personal Injury Claim?
Although mediation aims to help both parties reach a settlement out of court, the settlement itself is not guaranteed. This is because this process is not meant to tell what one party should or should not do. Specifically, the mediator does not make decisions for the parties involved. Rather, their role is to facilitate communication and encourage them to settle.
If both parties disagree, the mediator cannot force them to rethink their decision but can advise them to. In other words, the mediator cannot force them to settle if they are unwilling.
How Does the Mediation Process Work?
A typical mediation process has five key stages, especially those involving personal injury cases. Here is an overview of each stage:
In the first stage, the mediator makes their opening statement. They also introduce everyone present during the mediation and encourage them to work toward reaching an agreement.
In the second stage, the participants are allowed to make their statements about the personal injury cases. One party cannot interrupt the other while making a statement.
The third stage involves a joint discussion between both parties. At this stage, the parties involved will discuss issues raised during the opening statements in stage two.
Then, in the fourth stage, both parties will have a private meeting with the mediator to share their views on the case. The mediator will also share their thoughts, encouraging them to reach an agreement.
Lastly, if both parties finally reach an agreement, the mediator will help them put the terms of the agreement in writing. If they do not reach an agreement, the mediator will encourage them to resume negotiations, usually at a later date.
Are Mediation Agreements Legally Binding?
Yes, anything you agree on during mediation, which is put down in writing, is legally binding. As a result, it can be used in court if the need arises.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Mediation for a Personal Injury Claim?
You do not necessarily need a lawyer for a personal injury claim mediation. However, an attorney can help you prepare for mediation, increasing your chances of obtaining favorable results. Remember, even as your case goes through mediation, the other party will still want to protect their own interests. Therefore, you need to understand your rights, including the dos and don’t of mediation.
That is where a competent attorney comes in.
It is also important to remember that mediation is not compulsory unless ordered by the court. Therefore, there are times when pursuing a personal injury lawsuit may be the better option. Again, an experienced attorney will review the details of your case and help you decide the best way to approach it.
Lastly, a competent attorney has your best interests at heart. They know what is good for you and what’s not. Therefore, when you hire such an attorney, you do not have to worry about being manipulated into accepting a settlement offer that does not reflect the true value of your injuries. This is because such an attorney cares about you and wants the best for you.
At Morgan and Morgan, we can help you decide the best course of action to take if you are a personal injury victim. If you are unsure what to do or how to proceed with your claim, fill out our free case evaluation form. We will review your case and get in touch to discuss your options.