Personal injury mediation is an attractive alternative to a court trial, and increasingly, it’s becoming a required part of the pre-trial process. A mediation agreement is non-binding, but it can help you obtain a settlement much faster, saving you a lot of time and aggravation.
As legal professionals skilled in personal injury mediation, our attorneys at Russell & Lazarus APC may be able to settle your dispute without your ever having to set foot inside a courtroom. Quite often, mediation results in a settlement agreement that proceeds to completion without further litigation.
Below, we review the mediation process and what you can expect of it.
Understanding How Personal Injury Mediation Works
Personal injury mediation is an alternate dispute resolution method you can choose instead of a civil trial. In some cases, a judge will actually order a mediation attempt first. Both parties sit down with a neutral mediator to discuss the case, and then try to negotiate a settlement everyone can live with. The only attendees should be you, your personal injury attorney, the defendant, their attorney, the defendant’s insurance adjuster, and the mediator.
Here are some of the things you can expect:
1. The mediator will be completely impartial.
He or she won’t take sides and will never offer any legal advice. That’s why you need a personal injury lawyer. The mediator cares only about facilitating communication and helping you reach a settlement. If you and the defendant can’t agree on a mediator, the court will appoint one.
2. You’ll all start the process together.
The people mentioned above will meet together in a conference room. You and your lawyer will sit on one side of the table and the defendant’s party on the other, with the mediator at the head of the table. Both attorneys will then present their arguments. Expect the defendant’s attorney to question your story, your believability, your case’s value, even your integrity. It may not be pleasant, but must let them make their case, and they must do the same for you.
3. The mediator will then meet with each party separately.
After both sides have presented their arguments, the mediator will move each party into different rooms. The mediator will then gather information from both parties, and shuttle back and forth with demands, offers, and counteroffers until you either stall out or come to an acceptable agreement.
4. The process will take a while.
You and the defendant may be so far apart in the beginning you may think you’ll never be able to agree on anything. Their first offer will probably be ridiculously low. It may take hours of negotiation to even approach something like common ground. Expect to spend a minimum of several hours in mediation. It may take a full day or longer.
5. You’ll need to be willing to compromise.
Personal injury mediation is based on give-and-take. Both sides have to go in willing to work toward the settlement, or the process will fail. Be reasonable with your expectations, knowing the other party is trying to get the best deal possible from their point of view, just like you are. Listen to your lawyer.
Why Should I Bother With Mediation?
Because it’s a lot less expensive, messy, and painful than a trial, and takes less time. Mediation also lets you control most aspects of the case, rather than a jury or judge. Plus, once both sides agree to the deal, you never have to worry about an appeal or an overturned verdict.
Can I Use Mediation for My Personal Injury Case?
Almost certainly. Mediation is routinely used to resolve slip and fall cases, defective product cases, vehicle accident lawsuits, and similar business torts. (A tort is a civil lawsuit intended to right a wrong caused by the defendant’s failure to take reasonable care to protect the injured party).
Contact Orange County Personal Injury Mediation Attorneys Today
If someone else’s negligence or defective product has caused you injury, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you negotiate a decent settlement or take the case to trial. Call Russell & Lazarus APC today at (949) 851-0222 for a consultation.