As a personal injury trial attorney, I am no stranger to taking cases all the way to court if that is what’s best for my client. However, mediation can be a great opportunity to settle a case before court or to learn more about the defense’s methods in case we go to trial.
Mediation is an informal process used to resolve personal injury disputes out of court. Generally speaking, it involves you (and your attorney), the defense attorney, and a neutral third party (mediator) who listens to evidence from both sides. Once the mediator has heard all arguments, they will make a settlement recommendation. If both sides agree to the solution, the claim can be settled. If the parties do not agree in mediation, the case will go to court, and the outcome will be decided in a personal injury trial.
Why Do We Have Mediations?
The first reason for going through mediation is that it is required by Tennessee Court rules. It may not be necessary to involve a judge to preside over a case that the parties can resolve themselves. In the State of Tennessee, parties are required to attempt mediation before their case may go to trial.
Can’t We Just Settle This Case?
Settling and mediation are not polar opposites. In fact, mediations offer a great opportunity to settle. Mediations offer a few hours (or sometimes days) to focus exclusively on your case, without the back-and-forth emails, requests, and wait times normally involved during negotiations with an insurer. Our legal team and the other side’s attorneys devote 100% of the time spent in mediation to finding a solution that will work for all parties. About 70% of the cases we take to mediation settle at some point in the mediation process.
Who is the Mediator?
The mediator is a third-party attorney who practices in the same area of law as the type of injury or accident you have suffered. They are certified by the State of Tennessee to act as mediators, and their general goal is to reach a settlement. As your lawyer, I will choose the attorney who I think is the best fit to act as a mediator.
What Are the Advantages of Mediation?
One of the biggest benefits of mediation is that it relieves you of the pressure of going to court. Depositions can be nerve-wracking, and you will need careful preparation to make sure you are a credible witness before giving testimony in court. If you settle, your case ends, allowing you to avoid the stress of litigation.
Another advantage of mediation is that it allows you to avoid uncertainty. No matter how much we prepare, no one can predict exactly what will happen at trial. Instead of risking the amount of your damages on the mood and perceptions of a jury, you can get a guaranteed, definitive number from the opposing attorney.
When you accept a settlement, you also have the benefit of privacy. In a trial, the outcome of the case is public record, allowing your family, friends, and neighbors to know exactly how much you won. A settlement remains private, preventing unwanted parties from coming forward to share in the proceeds of your case.
Mediation allows you to avoid spending unnecessary time and money waiting for your case to be resolved. Settling gets rid of the extra expenses incurred in going to court, and also allows you to receive payment more quickly than damages ordered in a verdict. Our legal team can help you decide on a figure that will be worth avoiding court, but still enough to compensate you for all of your losses.
Finally, mediation allows us to see which defenses the opposing attorney is planning to use if the case goes to trial. In this way, mediation is never a waste of time—it gives us the chance to address any potential problems in your case before we go to court.
What Are the Disadvantages of Mediation?
Mediation may not be the best idea if it is done too soon after an accident. It may not be apparent how much an injury will cost you early in your case, and it can take weeks to track down all of the relevant information that could affect the amount of your settlement. If we are contacted early by a defense attorney requesting mediation, it may be a sign that the insurer is trying to pay less than a claim is worth.
Does Mediation Cost Money?
Mediators, like all attorneys, charge for their services. However, mediators typically charge by the hour, which can quickly add up if negotiations stretch out over a few days. Costs of mediation may be paid by the insurer or divided evenly between the two parties. Mediation costs can be factored into a settlement offer.
What Are Some Common Misconceptions About Mediation?
In Tennessee, you are not likely to see conflict or confrontation during a mediation session. You and the defense will not be staring at a table across from one another. In fact, you and I may be the only people in the room, and we will wait for the mediator to come in and discuss your concerns.
Any settlement offers are confidential, whether they are accepted or not. The amounts discussed can’t be used against you later, and the judge or jury will never know how much you offered, turned down, or accepted.
In addition, many people assume that mediation is their only chance to reach a settlement deal. Even if we cannot reach an agreement in mediation, it does not mean negotiations are over. Of the cases we take to trial after mediation, nearly every one will be settled before a judge rules on the case.
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 fair financial compensation. If you suffered an injury that makes it impossible for you to live your life, the legal team at GriffithLaw would be honored to fight on your behalf. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or give us a call at (615) 807-7900 to learn more.