If you or somebody you care about sustains an injury caused by the actions of another individual or entity, you will likely be able to recover compensation for your losses. However, the process of recovering this compensation can be challenging. The vast majority of personal injury claims are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers, but that is not always the case. Sometimes, personal injury lawsuits are necessary, and this is where we may run into the mediation process. Here, we want to discuss what personal injury mediation is.
What is Mediation in a Personal Injury Case?
We mentioned above that the vast majority of personal injury cases are resolved through settlements before they go to trial. The reality is that most cases are uncomplicated enough that a settlement is a quicker and less expensive route to resolve the matter. However, there are times when lawsuits become necessary, particularly if the injury victim and the at-fault party or insurance carrier cannot reach an agreement.
In many situations, personal injury mediation may be ordered by a judge. When this occurs, the mediation will be conducted by a neutral third party of whom both sides agree to use. Usually, the mediator will be an experienced personal injury attorney in Orange County or even a former judge who has handled these situations on behalf of parties for years.
What You Can Expect During the Mediation
If you have to go through personal injury mediation, there are various steps that will be common to most mediations that you should be aware of beforehand:
- Introductions. When the mediation begins, the mediator will introduce every person in the room. In general, this will include the injury victim (the plaintiff) as well as the alleged at-fault party (the defendant), representatives from insurance carriers, and the attorneys for every party. After the introductions, the mediator will usually give a brief overview of the case and possibly ask a few preliminary questions.
- Both parties separated. After introductions, both parties will separate to different locations. Usually, the plaintiff and the defendant will not see each other again until after the mediation is over with.
- The mediator goes back and forth. A mediator will proceed to go back and forth and talk to both parties about the claim. The mediator will have all of the information pertaining to the case, and they will be able to use their understanding of personal injury law to help craft an adequate solution for the entire situation. Mediators will pose questions to both sides, and they will relay pertinent information from one side to the other. We do want to point out that a mediator will be a confidant of both sides, and they will not relate confidential or sensitive information from one side to the other. However, because the mediator will have all this knowledge, they will be able to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the case and make suggestions about what should happen.
- Reaching a possible resolution. The entire goal of a personal injury mediation is to attempt to reach a settlement before a trial becomes necessary. If the mediator can get both sides to agree on an adequate compensation amount, then the case will essentially be over with.
- Avoiding trial. In the event the mediation does not result in a successful resolution, it may become necessary to move forward with the personal injury trial. If a resolution cannot be reached during the mediation, then the mediation will end, and the case will be scheduled on the civil court docket.