What is a Mediation and When Does it Occur During my Personal Injury Case?
I've recently posted a blog explaining the role of a deposition in your personal injury case, as well as how to prepare and what to expect. As I've stated, when a complaint is filed in circuit court and your case moves into litigation, I like to sit down with clients and provide an overview of how their case will progress. In doing so, not only do we discuss the client's deposition, but I also take time to explain what is a mediation and when it occurs during a personal injury case
What is a mediation?
A mediation is a process in which parties to a lawsuit as well as their attorneys sit down with a neutral third party—called a mediator—and work towards resolving your case.
Who will be present?
As a plaintiff's attorney, I attend mediations to represent the interests of my clients. A defense attorney as well as his client, the adjuster representing the insurance company, will also be present. A mediator is an individual (most often an attorney who has been certified as a mediator by the Florida Bar) who the parties both agree to use. A mediator is “neutral,” meaning that he or she has no interest in the outcome of your case. A mediator's role is to facilitate negotiations between the parties after each has had the opportunity to make what is called an “opening statement” and separate into different rooms.
WHAT OCCURS DURING A MEDIATION?
After the parties gather together in a conference room and the mediator has introduced himself, each attorney will give an opening statement. An opening statement allows attorneys to educate the mediator on their view of the case and how they will be presenting their case at trial. Opening statements can vary in both time and complexity based on the facts of the individual case. Sometimes exhibits such as photos of the property damage of the vehicles involved or of your injuries and medical records are also used.
A defense attorney will generally turn to you as the plaintiff and tell you that this is the only time he or she has the opportunity to speak directly to you. An opening statement detailing issues with your case and the grounds that your case is being defended on are also explained by the defense attorney. I tell clients that it is important to listen to what the defense attorney is telling them and be polite. Trying to interject and interrupt the defense attorney's opening statement or getting upset will only cause the defense to think that you may be rattled on the witness stand at trial which could harm your case. Following opening statements, each party and his/her attorney will separate into different rooms and the mediator will speak with each side separately in attempts to facilitate negotiations and work towards a settlement.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Just as with attending your deposition, dress appropriately for your mediation. Looking presentable is important because more likely than not, this will be the adjuster from the insurance company's first opportunity to view you as a person and assess how you will appeal to a jury at trial.
Remember that everything that occurs during the mediation is confidential. In most jurisdictions, this means everyone in attendance at the mediation will sign a confidentiality agreement at the start of the mediation affirming that they will not communicate the details of the mediation to anyone (aside from speaking with other staff members at your attorney's office).
This also means that each party is free to admit certain facts and concede points that they might later decide to fight at trial. It also means that any offers or demands that are made during the mediation cannot be later discussed at trial.
CLEARWATER PERSONAL INJURY AND CIVIL TRIAL FIRM
Parties agree to attend mediation in good faith, meaning that each side is there in attempts to work towards resolving your case. Listening to your attorney as well as the arguments posed by the defense attorney is important. Remember that the mediator is there to facilitate communication and that mediation process can be the most fruitful opportunity to bring closure to your case. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we take time to explain the litigation process to our clients as soon as a lawsuit is filed. For more information, call 727-451-6900.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765