Personal injury cases do not automatically go before a judge and jury in a courtroom. You and your attorney may spend most of your time in an ordinary conference room participating in something called mediation. Mediation is an alternative to the courtroom for legal dispute resolution.
At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, our attorneys are experienced negotiators who work efficiently to help our clients secure the fair compensation they need.
What Is Mediation?
After an accident, the victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover compensation for losses. The accident victim is known as the plaintiff. The defendant is the party being sued.
During mediation, a personal injury attorney typically represents the plaintiff. An insurance company’s attorney, and sometimes the company’s adjuster, represents the defendant.
Plaintiff’s and defendant’s representatives meet with a neutral third party, called a mediator. These professionals are trained to help opposing parties reach a voluntary agreement that resolves the case to everyone’s satisfaction. Retired judges, defense attorneys, and trial attorneys often work as mediators.
Once a mediation agreement is reached and signed, it’s enforceable in court.
There are many pros and a few cons to any personal injury mediation process, including:
- Mediation is informal, flexible, and non-adversarial.
- The mediator doesn’t choose sides, force the parties to agree, or decide who wins.
- There are no court rules, rules of evidence, or cross-examination.
- Statements during mediation are confidential and can’t be used in court. That said, information revealed in verbal statements can be used in any subsequent court proceedings.
- No unique documents are necessary. Mediation usually requires only the insurance claims you’ve already filed.
- Unless the defendant’s representatives allow it, plaintiffs don’t have to face the defendant.
- Mediation is usually less expensive than going to court.
- The process is typically faster and simpler than going to court.
- Plaintiffs have more control over the results. If the personal injury case goes to trial, the jury has control. That means the outcome can be unpredictable.
- You may have to compromise.
Personal injury mediation may be an option if your case has been ordered by a trial judge to use mediation or if you reach a stalemate in settlement negotiations.
Your Role at a Personal Injury Mediation
If you choose mediation for your personal injury case, your role is to:
- Arrive on time.
- Dress appropriately.
- Answer questions from the defendant’s representatives.
Most importantly, listen calmly and without interruption. If your mediation process is unsuccessful and your case ends up in court, any outbursts during the mediation may harm your case. The defendant’s attorney will know how to unsettle you on the witness stand.
Your attorney will prepare you for every step of the mediation process. You’ll need to make a decision and accept or reject the insurance company’s settlement offer.
How a Lawyer Can Help You
At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, our personal injury attorneys will help you through every stage of the mediation process. Call us now for a free consultation.