Preparing for Personal Injury Mediation

Are you preparing for a mediation session to seek a personal injury claim settlement? It can be intimidating if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Even though you may have legal representation, you may still wonder what the mediation process entails.

When you work with one of the personal injury attorneys from JJ Legal, we can walk you through how to prepare for mediation. Our legal team has decades of combined experience in these guided negotiations. We have your interests at heart and are determined to advance them.

Preparing for Mediation: The Basics

The best way to prepare for mediation is to know what’s going to happen. Although each case’s details are different, the format of mediation is essentially the same:

All parties introduce themselves. Usually, participants include the plaintiff (injured party) and their personal injury attorney, the defendant (at-fault party) and their lawyer, and a representative from the insurance company. The mediator is also present. The role of the mediator is to guide the parties to a compromise. The mediator is usually someone with a background in personal injury law, like a former judge or lawyer. This gives them insight into the nature of your case. They may also be able to make suggestions about what is and isn’t possible for your settlement.

Each party makes an opening statement. This can be brief, stating the extent of your injuries and losses. Or, it can be a couple of hours long, with plenty of supporting evidence. The plaintiff goes first, stating what they want and why. Then, the defense goes, stating why they should pay a lesser amount than the plaintiff wants.

All parties sign a confidentiality agreement. Anything discussed in mediation cannot be used at trial (with a few narrowly defined exceptions). You can say things in mediation that you might not ordinarily say.

The parties separate. You and your lawyer will be in a different room (or a different video room for remote mediation) from the defense. The mediator goes back and forth, presenting each side’s demands or offers. A mediator may give their opinion if asked, but they cannot make decisions for you. However, they may be able to suggest creative solutions to settle the case.

If you reach an agreement, the attorneys draft a Mediated Settlement Agreement. All parties sign this document, which the lawyers will file with the court. Once the Agreement is approved, then you’ll be sent a release. The release states that you have settled the claim and cannot seek additional compensation. Be careful, though – always have your personal injury attorney review any release the other side sends you. Once you sign the release, then the insurance company will release your check. In some cases, the release may be included in the Settlement Agreement document.

If you can’t reach a settlement, then your case goes to trial.

What Preparations Should I Make?

Be sure you know the facts of your case. Decide what you’ll do if you begin to get angry or upset. Your lawyer may suggest that you roleplay a mediation session together. They might have ideas about what the other side will say about the case or about what kinds of offers they might make.

You and your lawyer should discuss the most and the least amount of money you might get for your case.

Preparing your mind before you enter mediation will help you get the most out of the session.

What Are the Benefits of Mediation?

Preparing for Personal Injury Mediation

A trial has bigger risks than mediation. In mediation, you have much more control than you would in a trial. You can say yes or no or offer an alternative settlement suggestion. In a trial, the judge or jury decides your fate.

Mediation is also confidential, and any settlement you reach is also usually confidential. However, in a trial, everything is a matter of public record. There could be things that you don’t want to admit to in court, like your contribution to causing the accident. Or you simply may not want details of your injury to be public knowledge.

Mediation costs less and takes less time than a trial. If you’re still physically or emotionally fragile, the stress and conflict of a trial could be detrimental to your recovery.

Mediation Do’s and Don’ts

What you do and say during mediation can affect the outcome of your settlement. Remember that although it’s less formal than a civil trial, it’s still a professional occasion. Following these do’s and don’ts (and your lawyer’s advice) can help you achieve a better outcome.

DO: Be professional. Dress in business casual or business dress attire and have good grooming. Use professional language and avoid profanity. Address the defense respectfully and politely. You may be surprised how far good manners go in making the other party more amenable to compromise.

DON’T: Lose your temper. You’ve been hurt, possibly permanently disabled. You’re financially worse off than before the accident and understandably angry. If you feel you’re starting to lose your cool, it’s okay to ask for a break and regroup with your attorney.

DO: Be willing to rethink your position. You may have your best-case settlement scenario, an “okay, but I can live with it” scenario, and a “walk away” scenario. Your case may be weaker than you think. Your lawyer or the mediator may point out where a jury may decide against you. So, consider accepting a guaranteed “ok” settlement versus rolling the dice at trial.

DON’T: Be afraid to say no. If you know that you’ll need ongoing medical care, then you shouldn’t settle for less than the estimated amount. Or, if the defense asks for unreasonable concessions, you can decline. Don’t feel pressured or intimidated into failing to stand up for your interests.

DON’T: Lie. You don’t have to disclose everything, especially if your lawyer wants to reserve some things for trial. But, if you’re caught in a lie, then the defense could walk away or even use it against you. Follow your lawyer’s advice about what to say, but don’t embellish or lie about events.

Do You Want Mediation for Your Personal Injury Claim?

If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another party, you could have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. You can demand compensation for your medical costs, out-of-pocket losses, and your intangible losses.

A personal injury lawyer from JJ Legal can help you get the justice you deserve. We can represent you in mediation and try to negotiate a fair settlement for your case. If that fails, we will tenaciously litigate your case in court. Call us today at 312-200-2000 for a free consultation.

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