A Step-by-Step Guide to How Mediation Works in Personal Injury Cases
Perhaps you have encountered the term mediation when reading about personal injury claims. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that often gets used before case litigation begins. Both parties come together to have a conversation about possible resolutions on which they agree.
Objective mediation has been shown to be a very effective system for resolving disputes in a personal injury settlement, working especially well because the mediator can help neutrally resolve the emotional and economic issues at stake. The mediator should not be biased towards either of the parties, which in many cases involve the injured and the insured.
How Is Mediation Beneficial?
Mediation saves time by helping parties reach a settlement through the use of an unaffiliated third party. Taking a case to court is a long process, so it can be resolved more efficiently when the Defendant and the Plaintiff can mediate a solution that satisfies both parties.
How Does It Work?
Personal Injury Lawyers at Trent Law provide a step-by-step guide to how mediation works in personal injury cases.
It’s crucial to understand that there is always a neutral third party during mediation – the mediator – who facilitates the mediation process. This person is usually an attorney. A mediator does not give legal advice and is not biased toward the Defendant or the Plaintiff. They help both parties negotiate without trying to guide the conflict to a specific resolution.
Mediation can either be in an informal environment or as a scheduled settlement conference that is agreed upon with both parties. Once initiated, personal injury mediation can vary slightly but typically follows the same structure and timeline, often looking like this:
1. Introduction: During the introduction, the mediator introduces themselves and gives an opening statement. They do an ethics check and discuss administrative matters such as fees and signing of the Agreement to Mediate.
The mediator will organize a schedule that includes breaks, lunch, and additional pauses for private meetings. They will explain the rules of conduct, which express that all parties must conduct themselves with courtesy and allow the other party to express their point of view or make suggestions. Throughout the settlement, the mediator will reiterate confidentiality and encourage a healthy conversation that leads to a satisfactory settlement.
2. Problem determination: In this stage, each party will present their position, evidence, and arguments. It’s important here to address significant issues such as negligence, pain and suffering, and others. Establishing fault can be one of the most troubling issues to determine when presenting personal injury litigation. It must be done through the use of physical as well as non-physical evidence, which in many cases can be equally important. Problem determination is an important phase during which to present medical bills and short- or long-term injury consequences to show the impact of the accident and the importance of seeking compensation.
3. Generation of alternatives: Each party will next have an individual meeting with the mediator to discuss their areas of settlement. The mediator will do a thorough, realistic assessment of the strong and weak points of each party’s position.
Generally, what is discussed is compensation. In personal injury cases, compensation typically comes in the form of paid monetary damages, which are used to pay medical bills, pay out lost wages as the result of injury, or compensate for damages, emotional distress, and more. An important point to consider, when determining the best possible alternative, is the breach of duty the Defendant had in the personal injury case.
4. Clarification and agreement writing: If and when a settlement is reached during mediation, the next necessary step is to document it in writing, with legal counsel present.
How Should You Prepare for Mediation?
Being properly prepared for a mediation can help take away stress from the process. First and foremost, you are recommended to prepare with your attorney for a personal injury mediation, as they will have more insight and information on how it works. However, Trent Law offers a few baseline recommendations to bear in mind:
- Note down what points and issues you think would be most relevant for discussion during the mediation session.
- Be sure to have relevant evidence in hand.
- It’s important to show a clean image to transmit seriousness and neutrality in a mediation, so dress for success.
- Be attentive during the whole process. Missing details can be a crucial misstep in a mediation and can also make the process longer than it has to be.
- A personal injury can put a person through a lot of pain and suffering and cause severe consequences. However, try to remain as neutral as possible during the mediation. It’s best to discuss and negotiate with a cool head.
What Happens After a Mediation Settlement?
When parties reach a successful settlement, they must sign an agreement. Once the agreement is signed, it becomes a legally binding contract that can be used in the court of law. Parties typically incorporate multiple types of documents into these agreements, such as releases of liability, to prevent a Plaintiff from raising an additional claim for the same incident after receiving their settlement.
Once the releases are signed, and the parties have complied with their end of the deal, they can send a dismissal order to the judge who handled their case, in the case this judge ordered a mediation. When a case is settled, parties will no longer need to return to court.
If you live in the city of Chicago and need help with personal injury litigation, contact Trent Law Firm. We form a connection with our clients, protect their legal rights against injustice, and take the correct legal action to make sure they receive fair compensation.