Personal injury mediation is a type of pretrial conflict resolution, also known as alternative dispute resolution or ADR. It is an opportunity for both parties involved in a personal injury case to resolve the issue by reaching a settlement rather than going to trial. Sometimes, mediation is a legal requirement before a case can proceed to trial. Knowing what to expect during personal injury mediation can help you prepare for this process as an injured party.
When Is Mediation Used?
A simple personal injury case that involves only minor injuries may reach a settlement without needing any form of conflict resolution. The plaintiff and the defendant’s insurance company may be able to negotiate a settlement agreement between themselves – especially if the plaintiff is represented by an experienced attorney as the negotiator. If negotiations fail, however, a logical next step is mediation.
Where Is Mediation Held?
Mediation is not a court trial. It generally does not take place in a courtroom or even a courthouse. Instead, mediation is often held at a neutral location, such as at an attorney’s office. It is more informal than a personal injury trial, although you should still act professionally. Your lawyer can help you prepare what to wear, how to act and what to say during mediation.
Who Attends Mediation?
Mediation is generally attended by both parties involved in the personal injury case, their attorneys (if desired) and a mediator. In some cases, the defendant may opt not to attend mediation and to send his or her defense attorney to the meeting on the defendant’s behalf. Mediation is not open to the public and does not involve a judge or jury.
What Is a Mediator?
A mediator is an unbiased third party whose job is to help the other two parties resolve their legal dispute. Unlike a judge, a mediator does not have the power or authority to render a resolution or create a court order at the end of the meeting. Instead, the mediator is only there to facilitate conversations and negotiations between the two parties, in the hopes of reaching a resolution.
What Are the Steps of Mediation?
Like all legal processes, mediation follows the same general steps from case to case. While it is less formal and often less stressful than a personal injury trial, mediation can still be daunting if it is your first time. In general, you can expect the following steps during personal injury mediation:
- First, the mediator will introduce everyone who is in attendance and explain their roles in the case.
- Before mediation begins, the mediator will pass around a document that everyone must sign. This is an agreement to keep everything that is said and negotiated at mediation confidential.
- Once mediation begins, the plaintiff’s lawyer will make the opening statement and provide any supporting information or evidence. This will be followed by the defense attorney’s opening statement.
- Both parties will separate for the second half of mediation, typically going into two different rooms. The mediator will visit each room, going back and forth to carry information and try to resolve the conflict.
- Mediation does not have to end in a resolution. Mediation can end with a settlement agreement, an agreement to continue negotiations or the case going to trial.
Your lawyer can help you know what to expect from mediation during your specific personal injury case. A lawyer can represent you during mediation so that you do not have to go through this important meeting on your own. Finally, a lawyer can tell you what to do and what not to do during mediation to help your case.
Do You Need an Attorney for Personal Injury Mediation?
Throughout the legal process, including personal injury mediation, the defense attorney will have the defendant’s best interest in mind – not yours. The best way to stand up for your own rights during mediation is by hiring a lawyer to represent you. If you are curious about mediation during a personal injury case in Dallas, contact an attorney from The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. for a free consultation. We offer mediation representation services.