Mediation is a common method used to settle personal injury disputes. It allows people from both sides of the claim to make a case to a neutral third party, who listens and makes a recommendation on the settlement. If both sides agree, the claim can be settled without the need to go to court. If the parties do not agree to a solution in mediation, the case will go to court and the solution will be decided in a personal injury trial.
A Typical Overview of Car Accident Mediation Sessions
Mediation is not mandatory, but is a voluntary process that can help your case reach a settlement more quickly and less expensively. It is often most beneficial to parties who agree on the basic need for the claim, but are in disagreement about the exact amounts that should be paid. If negotiations with an insurer in your injury claim have reached a stalemate, mediation can allow you to show the extent of your losses, giving the insurer an opportunity to raise the amount without being forced to by a judge. We answer some common questions here:
- What will happen? Although every mediation is different, the sessions often take the same basic structure: each party will present his case to the mediator (in the presence of the other party), and each party will get to speak alone with the mediator. Some mediators allow parties to talk directly to each other, with the mediator facilitating the exchange. The mediator uses all of the information gathered to find the ways in which the parties are likely to compromise. There are no rules on the ways that facts may be presented, and nothing either party says during mediation may be used in court or further negotiations after mediation is complete.
- Who pays for it? The costs of mediation are typically divided evenly between the two parties, since neither will argue that they are owed more in negotiation as a result.
- Who is the mediator? Practically anyone can serve as an independent mediator, but the best mediators are those with legal knowledge, such as lawyers or former claims adjusters. It is important to remember that a person hired as a mediator is not an advocate for either party, and should remain unbiased throughout the dispute.
- What are the benefits? Many people opt for mediation because it is much faster, allowing claims to be resolved in a matter of hours instead of weeks or months. It is also typically less expensive and less stressful than going to trial. It also allows a claimant and a claims adjuster to sit in the same room, humanizing a matter that would otherwise just be a set of documents or a file number for the adjuster. These sessions are more informal than a trial, and offer participants direct control over the outcome. Finally, mediation sessions are private and the information presented is confidential, which may not be possible in a trial.
- What are the drawbacks? Mediation may only take a few days to complete, but mediators often charge by the hour, making their services unfairly expensive for injury victims (unlike insurers, who have unlimited funds at their disposal). It may also be difficult to get insurers to agree to mediation, and even harder to get an insurance agent to make a personal appearance at every mediation session.
Insurers have a dedicated team of lawyers to fight and defeat injury claims, and having your own attorney by your side is the best way to protect your right to receive a fair financial award. If you suffered an injury that makes it impossible for you to live your life, you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At GriffithLaw, we can listen to your concerns and tell you what your next steps should be in your free evaluation of your case. Contact our skilled legal team today or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.