Mediation – it can be a helpful process to settle your personal injury case, or it can be a painful ordeal that leaves you feeling insulted and thinking that you are just a number to the insurance company. Nearly all personal injury plaintiffs will face this process during their case. This post will serve as a brief guide to the process.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a meeting between both parties and their attorneys that is conducted by a neutral third party – the mediator – where the parties see if they can reach a settlement. The parties can decide they want to do a mediation on their own, or the judge can order a mediation before the parties can go to trial. At mediation, both your attorney and the attorney for the other party will give a presentation of their side of the case. The parties and their attorneys will then go to separate rooms, and the mediator will go back and forth, relaying settlement offers and messages. The typical mediation lasts about 4 hours, but can last much longer depending on how each side sees the case.
Your attorney and the attorney for the other party will chose a mediator that they both agree upon. Keep in mind that the mediator will not be making a final decision about what your case is worth, and won’t be deciding your case the way a judge or jury would. Instead, the mediator acts as a go-between and works to get the parties to a mutual agreement.
Is mediation necessary?
Mediation is necessary before your case goes to trial in Florida. Sometimes a voluntary mediation can be a good idea before filing suit if the parties want to reach a settlement agreement and just need a neutral third party to help the reach an agreement.
What if my case doesn’t settle at mediation?
Just because your case didn’t settle at mediation that doesn’t mean your case won’t settle in the future. In fact, many cases settle within about a week after mediation, once the parties have a chance to step back and consider everything the other side presented.
Don’t get insulted:
Mediation can be a frustrating, and even insulting, process. I have seen clients get offended at things the defendant’s lawyer says during the presentation, and be insulted by the offers made during negotiations. Mediation can seem like haggling with a used car dealer over something very important to you.
Don’t let your emotions get the better of you during the mediation. Ideally it should be a productive process that ends in settlement, but this isn’t always the case. Even when your case doesn’t settle mediation allows you and your attorney to see what defenses the other side will present at trial, and the reasons why they don’t want to settle your case.
Don’t walk into a mediation feeling unprepared, because more often than not you will walk out unhappy. If you have questions about the mediation process talk to your lawyer and have them explain their mediation strategy in detail.