If you or somebody you love sustains an injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of somebody else, you likely have the right to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses. Personal injury lawsuits can become complicated, and often, both sides will go through the mediation process in an attempt to reach an agreement before the claim goes to trial. Here, we want to discuss what mediation is, what happens during mediation, and how this may resolve a personal injury claim.
What is mediation?
Mediation is when both sides of a case come together using a neutral third party to help them resolve a claim before it goes to trial. Mediation can be voluntary between the plaintiff and defendant, but this process is often mandatory before a judge will allow a case to go to trial.
Most people do not realize that the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are resolved before they go to a full trial. Even after a civil personal injury lawsuit is filed, both sides will continue to negotiate in order to reach a fair settlement. Often, these negotiations are formalized through the mediation process.
What happens during the mediation?
The mediation process can be intimidating, particularly for those with limited legal experience. Here, we want to discuss what happens during the most common mediation steps.
The mediator introduces everybody
At the beginning of the mediation process, the mediator will introduce the parties to one another. The mediator will ensure that everyone knows the roles of every other person in the case.
Everybody signs a confidentiality agreement
After all of the introductions have been made, a mediator will ensure that everybody signs a confidentiality agreement. This means that everybody agrees to keep the negotiations that occur during the mediation confidential. This allows for all parties involved to agree or admit to things that they would otherwise not discuss in a trial setting.
Both parties, the plaintiff and the defendant, will give an opening statement. A plaintiff will lay out their reasonings for the valuation placed on the personal injury claim. The defense will have a chance to make an opening statement as well. They will likely dispute the facts of the case and give their reasonings for offering a lower settlement or denying a claim.
Both parties separate for the remainder of the mediation
After both parties have given an opening statement, they will separate for the remainder of the mediation. The plaintiff and their personal injury attorney will go to one room, and the defendant and their attorney will go to another room.
The mediator will go back and forth between the two parties
A mediator will go back and forth between the two parties. A good mediator will keep both parties working towards a settlement. They will remind each side about risks they face going to trial. The mediator will tell the plaintiff that they have no idea who will be on their jury or how a jury will respond to their claim. The mediator will also tell a defendant the same things and that they are better able to control the risks in the mediation setting.
The mediation is over
If a settlement is agreed upon by all parties involved, then the parties will sign a written statement officially formalizing the terms of the agreement. The attorneys for both sides will prepare the necessary paperwork to file with the court so that the claim can be paid. This will be the end of the case
However, if a settlement is not obtained during mediation, the chances of the case going to trial have significantly increased. Sometimes, a settlement agreement is reached even after mediation is over, but that is not always the case.