When filing any type of accident lawsuit, it’s common for both parties to meet with a legal mediator, an objective third party that helps both sides to come to an agreement without ever setting foot in a courtroom. When legal mediation reaches a desirable outcome, everyone wins. These outcomes are decided in a controlled environment between the two parties themselves. In contrast, when a lawsuit takes place in the courtroom, there are many circumstances that can lead to unfavorable outcomes for both parties. These can include outside opinions and biases from jury members, and the judge’s record in presiding over certain types of cases.
When to involve a mediator
Your personal injury lawyer will reach out to the opposing party’s legal counsel to see if mediation is possible. This is usually done after the demand letter has been sent and all the pertinent legal discovery is done. The goal is to reach a settlement without going to trial.
A court may order mediation in select cases, but more often than not, both parties voluntarily agree to participate in dispute resolution. Mediation is much more affordable than a court case and saves time for everyone involved. In the event that your case is successful in personal injury mediation, there are fewer fees deducted from your final awarded amount. When a case goes to trial, expert witnesses, third-party testing, analysis, and lawyer fees all decrease the final award.
Who to look for as a personal injury case mediator
First, legal counsel on both sides must agree on an appropriate third-party mediator. There are dispute resolution professionals that specialize in accidents, slip and falls and defective product injuries. For this reason alone, it’s advised to select one that is most appropriate for your type of accident case and injuries.
It’s common to see another personal injury lawyer from another firm to act as a mediator for an accident lawsuit. This is good for both parties because this means the professional is well-versed in state law for accidents and can relate to both parties appropriately.
What to Discuss with a Mediator
Before any discussions occur, a record is taken of all parties who are present at the mediator’s office or a third-party conference room. Then, everyone in attendance signs a confidentiality agreement to not discuss the negotiations outside of the room. This creates a more relaxed environment because certain facts may be mentioned or agreed upon that would not normally occur in a trial.
The mediator will meet with both parties in separate rooms to gather the necessary information to understand the accident case in its entirety. Just like in a courtroom setting, both parties get to state their case arguing fault. Depending on the number of exhibits, this process can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
It’s important for victims to remain calm while the opposite side states their case. Getting emotional or causing an outburst will only lengthen the mediation process. The goal is to reach a satisfactory outcome, which means an amicable compromise on both sides.
When the personal injury mediation starts, both parties will be on opposite sides of the spectrum for this compromise. This is ok because while your offer may be too high, and their counteroffer may be too low. Negotiations come naturally as the discussions continue.
How long does lawsuit mediation take?
The personal injury mediation process can pay off with a favorable outcome in a shorter time frame. Some dispute resolutions can take up to six hours, while others take days or weeks. This is still far less time than a personal injury lawsuit would take.
It’s important to keep an open line of communication with your personal injury lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. They can make sure your case is as airtight as possible for the best results.
If you would like to file an accident lawsuit for an incident that occurred in Arizona, feel free to reach out to Skousen, Gulbrandsen, & Patience, PLC. Our legal team has more than 50 years of experience practicing personal injury law in Mesa, AZ for car accidents, dog bites, medical malpractice, and other serious injury cases. Request your free initial consultation with our team today!