What Is Your Role In A Personal Injury Mediation?
At some point in your personal injury case, you may hear your injury attorney telling you that the parties have agreed to go to a mediation, or else, that the court has ordered (required) that the parties go to mediation. But what is mediation, and why do you have to go?
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Courts like mediation, because it helps cases get settled instead of going to trial, which tends to clear up space on the court’s docket or trial calendar.
Mediation is the chance for you and the Defendant (with your lawyers) to sit down, tell your side of the story, and try to settle your case. The mediator is not a judge and decides nothing; he or she is only there to try to convince the parties to settle their case—in a personal injury case, the mediator tries to get you to accept less compensation, and the other side to agree to pay more.
If you settle your case at mediation the case is over for whatever you settle for—there is no trial. If you do not settle the case, it proceeds the way it would have if you had never mediated. You can still settle your case later on, or go all the way to a full blown trial.
What Do You Do?
You, as the victim, don’t have to say anything in your mediation. It is not like a deposition , where you are asked questions that you must answer. Your lawyer will do most of the speaking in your mediation. Both sides will give a presentation, and then the mediator will often separate the parties, and then go back and forth between them, trying to get them to settle their case.
You will hear the “negatives” of your case from the Defendant. Some may be legitimate defenses that weaken your case, while other things the Defendant says may simply be “puffery,” or things said that have little basis in law or fact, but are simply said just to make you think your case is weaker than it is.
The mediator may ask you a few questions during the mediation—but your attorney will help you answer all of them, and since everything in mediation is confidential, nothing you say can ever hurt you or your case.
Accepting the Offers or Not
The biggest thing you will have to do during the mediation is decide whether to accept the amount that is being offered or not. Your attorney will help you decide what is a “good” offer worth considering, or whether you are better off rejecting the offers made, and proceeding forward with your case.
If you are making progress, the mediation will go on until there is a stalemate–or until the two sides have settled on a reasonable compensation amount.
Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help understanding every stage and step in your personal injury case.