What Happens After Mediation

Mediation is an alternative form of dispute resolution overseen by a trained mediator, usually someone with professional personal injury law experience. A judge may order a personal injury case to go through mediation before it is heard in court. Mediation is required in some states. In others, the parties may make the choice to try to reach a settlement in mediation.

In a mediation session, each side presents its case and demands, and then the parties work towards a compromise. The mediator facilitates the negotiation, helping each side review their options and making suggestions about how a compromise could be reached.

So, what comes after the mediation session? The next steps depend on whether you and your personal injury lawyer signed a settlement agreement with the other party.

What Happens After Mediation Resulted in a Settlement?

If you and the at-fault party agree to a settlement in mediation, then the mediator or one of the lawyers will draft the settlement agreement. The agreement contains the relevant facts of your case and each party’s obligations. It will specify the total dollar amount the plaintiff will receive. It may also contain other elements, like a non-disclosure agreement and possibly a clause wherein the injured party releases the at-fault party and their insurer from any additional claims related to this specific accident.

After the agreement is drafted, both sides review it. Once your lawyer agrees that it’s in order and contains all the terms you agreed on in mediation, then you can sign it. Remember, don’t sign anything about your personal injury claim without first having your lawyer review it. It’s their job to look out for your best interests and protect your rights.

After both parties sign the agreement, it’s filed with the court. Once the judge approves the agreement, it’s legally binding. At that point, if either side fails to comply with the terms, they could face legal consequences.

The case is concluded once a judge signs off on the settlement agreement. You cannot go back and ask for additional compensation if it turns out you need more money for medical care or lost earning potential. So, working with a personal injury attorney with the experience to value your claim properly is important.

What If the Other Party Doesn’t Honor Our Negotiated Settlement?

If the parties signed a settlement agreement and the court approved it, the settlement agreement is a legally binding contract. If the other party fails to uphold their bargain, the injured party could seek a remedy in court.

That means they could file a breach of contract action, which could result in any of the following sanctions or other actions that the judge believes are appropriate:

  • Performing the specific terms of the contract as agreed
  • Covering all costs of mediation
  • Paying the injured party’s legal fees
  • Paying associated court costs

Your attorney can advise you on what actions to take if the defendant isn’t complying with the terms you agreed to.

What Happens If You Don’t Reach a Settlement in Mediation?

If the initial mediation session isn’t successful, it’s not necessarily the end of the negotiation. Sometimes, especially in complex cases or those where the issue of liability is unclear, additional mediation sessions may be required.

You may need multiple mediation sessions if it’s a high-value case. Insurance companies aren’t in the business of paying out large settlements without significant justification. The insurance adjuster may want more time to investigate the matter on their own or require additional evidence from your side before paying a six or seven-figure claim.

Perhaps there isn’t enough evidence to satisfy the insurance company of their client’s liability. Or, maybe, they want an additional independent medical exam to determine the current extent of your injuries. They may also want an expert medical opinion about your prognosis, ability to function, and ability to engage in gainful employment. This can take time, sometimes several weeks, between the first and second mediation sessions.

Mediation can be just one step in the civil trial process. Each side continues to build their case, preparing for a trial. Perhaps evidence may come to light later on that strengthens your position and makes the defense more likely to lose a trial. In that case, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a favorable settlement for you.

Can I Try Mediation Again?

What Happens After Mediation

Yes, if the other party agrees. You can settle the case at any point. Perhaps you attempted mediation early in the process before all the facts were uncovered. Both sides may agree to another session.

However, if repeated mediation sessions are unsuccessful, the next step is a trial. It will be in a civil court, with a judge and possibly a jury. Your lawyer presents your case, the defense presents theirs, and the judge or jury decides the case’s outcome.

You may still settle your case before the conclusion of the trial. If your side is doing better than the defendant expects, they may offer an appropriate settlement.

Injured by Someone Else’s Actions? Call JJ Legal Now

If another party’s wrongdoing has harmed you, you need help getting the compensation you deserve. Although you can pursue a claim for compensation on your own, it’s hard to do while you’re focused on healing from your injuries. Maybe you’ve filed a claim but haven’t hired a lawyer yet. There’s still time to get professional legal advice, even if you’re about to go to mediation with the defendant.

The experienced personal injury attorneys from JJ Legal can handle even the most complex cases. We have more than twenty years of experience working with people harmed by the carelessness or wrongdoing of others. We know how to help you get the money you need to pay for your medical care, lost wages, and other accident-related losses. Contact our firm today by calling 312-200-2000 for a free consultation.

Related Posts

What should you do after an accident?

Dealing with insurance adjusters after an accident

Why some personal injury claims wind up in court