Personal injury cases are either settled easily in the beginning, negotiated for extended periods of time until a settlement is reached, or they go to trial and a jury decides. This article covers the middle section: negotiations. In the last couple of decades, a form of structured negotiation known as mediation has grown in popularity as an alternative way to settle a stubborn personal injury case.If you have been injured in an accident due to someone's negligence, it is good to be aware of the possible outcomes of your case. We will discuss what mediation is, the pros and cons of mediation, how your attorney will win at mediation through this process, and other questions you might have.
What Happens During Mediation?
Mediation is a scheduled meeting in which the two parties involved meet with a neutral third party that helps them reach an agreeable settlement. The mediator doesn't decide on a settlement for them but instead facilitates the conversation in such a way that helps both parties reach an agreement on their own. The purpose of mediation is to allow each side to talk without legal hold-ups and concerns about losing their case.
If nothing comes from the mediation, there is no harm done. In this effort, neither side can use any information they gain through the mediation process if the case later goes to court. A mediation session consists of both parties and their attorneys speaking with the mediator and then speaking with each other while the mediator helps. The basic idea is that because the mediator has no interest in the outcome other than a resolution, they can clearly see both sides. The mediator is then able to use this information to help each party express their sides and see what the other is missing. Each side is then coaxed into changing their position so that an agreement can be reached.
Pros and Cons of Attending Mediation
Mediation is a great alternative if private negotiations are not getting anywhere. The first reason they work so well is that a personal meeting puts a face to a name. Instead of just being a random name on the insurance adjuster's computer screen, the injured party becomes a real person with real human traits.Mediation has the added benefit of having a third party in the room who can use their experience to help convince each side with no fear of losing. There is also the added benefit of pressure since mediation is often scheduled right before the case goes to trial, which neither side really wants. This is because court cases are long, complicated, and expensive; mediations are fast, easy, and less expensive.
There are two downsides to mediation that may prohibit its use. The first occurs if an injured victim is trying to settle a claim on his or her own without an attorney. If this is the case, they may not be able to afford the upfront cost of mediation, since both parties split the bill. Additionally, if you are going at it alone it may be hard to get an insurance adjuster to take time out of their day and spend money on the process. For this, and many more reasons, it is highly beneficial to have a credible attorney on your side during the personal injury claim process.
Is Going to Mediation Required?Mediations may be voluntary and require both sides to request it, or mediations may be ordered by the court in order to save money. It is usually within a plaintiff's best interest to seek mediation since the alternative is moving on to a trial. There is a reason why most cases are resolved without going to trial. Going to court is long, expensive, and can turn into a war of attrition for both sides.
How Your Personal Injury Attorney Will Win You a Settlement at Mediation
Your attorney will help you to win a settlement at mediation because they have experience with the process and understand the tactics that work. Mediation works best when the trial date has been set and is coming up soon. This provides motivation to the insurance company to agree to the meeting. Otherwise, insurance companies don't feel the pressure to get the case solved. Your attorney will know this and set the date accordingly.
Your lawyer will also show up to the mediation fully prepared with all your case's information. This includes all the paperwork, case points, evidence, medical records, etc. This not only helps because, well, it always helps to be prepared, but it also expresses the idea that your attorney knows the case inside and out.
Knowing Who's Who in Mediation
Sometimes insurance companies will not take mediation very seriously. One of the common ways they do this is by sending someone to the meeting who does not have the final authority to settle the case, or they send a representative and conference call the person with the authority. Your attorney will ensure that neither of these unproductive tactics happens. You want to meet face-to-face with the person who can make the decision. That is the point, after all.
Opening Statement of Mediation
Mediations may or may not omit the opening statement stage of the meeting. Your attorney will help win you a larger settlement if they insist an opening statement is included. Opening statements help to add value to your case because it's the time to lay out your big cards.Much like a trial, the opening statement is when your attorney points to the evidence that makes your case and proves why the adjuster should meet the demand. This encourages the adjuster by giving them a taste of what they can expect at trial.
Stacking the Deck at Personal Injury Mediation
Personal injury attorneys have been to plenty of mediations, so they know how they work. One of the most crucial aspects of winning at mediation is to reserve some critical points for later in the day. This allows the offer to keep moving up, rather than peaking at the beginning before plateauing. Your attorney may strategically slip in a written statement from an expert witness or present a picture that is highly supportive of your injuries. Your attorney will help to win your settlement by spacing out their arguments and finishing strong.
Knowing When to Call it Quits With Mediation
Although the point of mediation is to settle the case, this is not always what happens. Some attorneys want to be paid as soon as possible so they are willing to settle easily. An experienced attorney will seek the biggest claim possible by understanding when mediation is not going anywhere and knowing when to pack it up. This can provide the push the insurance company needs; prompting an early morning phone call with a settlement the next day.
What Does Making a Demand at Mediation Entitle?
It's extremely helpful to enter mediation with knowledge about how much you will be demanding and how much you are willing to take for your claim. You and your attorney will discuss this ahead of time. This information provides a similar benefit to the above, as well as, helps with organization. The more prepared you are and the more prepared you seem, the better.
How Can Dolman Law Group Help With Your Personal Injury Case?At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we understand these tactics and will use them to get you the settlement you deserve. Not all cases can be settled at mediation and not all cases should be unless it's the right call. After suffering from an injury due to someone's negligence, our experienced personal injury attorneys can help get you the compensation you deserve in the following ways:
- Investigating the cause of your accident
- Negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf
- Network with expert witnesses and specialists
- Going to mediation if necessary
- Go to court if a settlement cannot be reached
Contact Dolman Law Group For Help With Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
The use of these strategies will put you in the best position to maximize the value of your case at mediation. When both the attorney and the insurance adjuster know that the case will eventually reach a similar conclusion anyway, the adjuster is more likely to present a reasonable offer.If you have been injured and are having trouble getting the money you need for your damages, call us today for a free case evaluation. We can be reached by phone at 727-451-6900 or contact us on our website. We look forward to meeting with you.