Personal Injury Cases and Mediation - What to Expect
A personal injury attorney can help those injured in accidents caused by another party's negligence, recklessness, or careless actions obtain fair compensation for their injuries.
Before a personal injury case goes to trial, it is often necessary for each side of the case to attend mediation. At Chanfrau & Chanfrau, our personal injury attorneys' expertise in personal injury cases and mediation allows them to thoroughly prepare clients on what to expect during mediation.
If you live in or around Daytona, FL and have been injured in an accident, our attorneys are ready to help you through mediation so you can get the compensation you deserve.
Mediation Allows Negotiation of a Fair Settlement
Mediation is essentially a negotiation process that uses a neutral third party as a means to resolve a dispute, or claim, in an effort to prevent going to trial.
In personal injury claims, mediation can enable both parties to agree upon a fair settlement and help avoid the costs, time, and unpredictability of a juried trial.
When mediation is required or voluntarily agreed upon, the plaintiff's attorney and the defendant's attorney must agree on a mediator as well as a date, time, and place to hold the mediation.
Although the goal of mediation is to allow both parties to come to a fair settlement, insurance companies are in the business of trying to settle for as little as possible, which is why it's important for personal injury victims to be prepared for the mediation process. Here are some key things to expect when facing mediation.
Multiple People Will Be at the Mediation
Mediations are generally made up of the plaintiff (the injured party), and his or her attorney, the defendant (the party accused of being at fault), his or her attorney, a representative from the defendant's insurance company, and the mediator.
The defendant’s party and the plaintiff’s party may be in separate rooms for the entire mediation process, or they may be in the same room for a portion of the process.
The Mediator Will Not Pick a Side
Mediators must be impartial to both parties so as not to give one side an advantage over the other. This is essential for negotiations to go smoothly and for both parties to come to a fair agreement.
Both the Plaintiff and Defense Are Allowed Opening Statements
Most mediations begin with opening statements from both parties. The opening statements are intended to present each side's view of the events and facts of the case.
It is often the defense attorney's position to challenge the plaintiff's view of the accident. This often means statements will be made that the plaintiff will not agree with.
Although it may be difficult, it is important not to be offended during the opening statements and not to react or act unprofessionally. Defense attorneys and insurance representatives may make inferences from the way a plaintiff reacts that could affect their settlement offer.
The Mediator Acts as Messenger
After the opening statements, each side is brought into their own room. The mediator then goes between the rooms, acting as messenger, to deliver offers until an agreement between the two parties is made or a decision is made to go to trial.
The Defense Often Starts with a Low Settlement Offer
It's common for the initial settlement offered by the defense to be much lower than the plaintiff is seeking or deserves. This doesn't mean the plaintiff won't get a higher settlement or one that he or she feels is fair.
Plaintiffs should not be discouraged if the first offer is far lower than they were anticipating. Mediation is a negotiation process that takes patience and levelheadedness to get to a number both parties agree on.
Both Sides Will Need to Compromise
The only way mediation works is if both sides are willing to compromise. This means the defense will need to increase their settlement offer and the plaintiff will need to be willing to accept less than his or her highest settlement demand.
Compromising on a settlement can allow the plaintiff to receive a settlement he or she feels is fair and eliminates the need for going to trial, where the settlement would be up to a jury or judge.
A Settlement May or May Not Be Reached
The goal of mediation is for the personal injury case to be resolved without going to trial. When mediation is successful, a settlement will be reached that is accepted by both the plaintiff and defendant.
Sometimes an agreement can't be reached in one session and mediation will resume at a later date. Other times, no agreement can be reached and the case will continue to trial.
Contact the Attorneys of Chanfrau & Chanfrau
Having an experienced attorney on your side during personal injury mediation can help prevent you from being taken advantage of by insurance companies who want to give you as little as possible for your injuries. Please call (386) 258-7313 to schedule a consultation and find out how the attorneys of Chanfrau & Chanfrau can help you.