Posted on Sunday, July 10th, 2022 at 8:09 pm
Most personal injury cases end in insurance settlements for one key reason: Trials are risky for both the plaintiff and defendant, whereas a settlement is guaranteed money for the injured party and brings the case to a definitive end. It is in both sides’ interest to avoid a trial, yet there are times when settlement negotiations fail, and it seems inevitable that the case will end up in court. When this happens, many judges will order both sides into mediation in a final effort to avoid a trial.
If you are involved in a personal injury case, and you have been ordered to meet with a mediator, it is crucial to understand how the process works so you can defend your rights. It is also a good idea to get help from an experienced personal injury attorney.
The Georgia personal injury lawyers of Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. have more than 70 years of combined experience and have helped hundreds of people just like you recover fair compensation for their injuries. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients and are well-known for the determination we bring to each case. If you have been injured in an accident, we can help.
How Is Mediation Different from Settlement Negotiations?
There are a few things that make mediation different from a typical settlement negotiation, such as:
- The mediator – In a settlement negotiation, your attorney will submit your evidence to the claims adjuster, then they will go back and forth in an attempt to reach an agreement that you and the insurance company both find acceptable. In mediation, a neutral party is present to help both sides find an acceptable resolution to the case. Having a third party present to help both sides work through their issues and keep the debate civil can often lead to a breakthrough when the sides had previously been butting heads.
- The setting – Mediation sessions do not take place in court, and they are also much less formal than court proceedings. Sometimes the pressure that comes with a courtroom setting can cause both sides to dig in their heels, and the hope is that by moving to a calmer setting, it will be easier to find a compromise that works for everyone.
- No forced solutions – The mediator does not pick a winner and cannot force either side to accept a settlement they do not agree with. Instead, the mediator’s job is to help each side understand the other’s position and help them reach a deal. However, if both sides agree on a settlement, that agreement may be enforceable in court.
What Happens in a Mediation Session?
The first step in any mediation session is for both sides to pick a date, time, and location to meet that is convenient for everyone involved. Mediation sessions do not have to take place in court, so the meeting can be held at the mediator’s office, the office of one of the attorneys involved in the case, a neutral conference space, or anywhere else both sides find agreeable.
Once the date and location have been chosen, both sides and the mediator will meet at the appointed time. In most cases, the only people present at the meeting are the plaintiff, the defendant, their lawyers, and the mediator. After everyone has arrived, the mediator will review the rules for the session, which generally include things like not interrupting the speaker, not talking over each other, giving everyone their full allotted time to speak, etc. In some circumstances, both sides will sign a confidentiality agreement before getting into the details of the negotiation.
The mediator will generally give the plaintiff a chance to make an opening statement, and then the defendant gets a turn. Then the mediator will begin trying to help both sides come to an agreement. They might ask questions of either side to determine what their goals are, pinpoint the merits of each side’s argument, try to find areas of common ground, and so on. If both parties are not comfortable being in the same room, the mediator may place them in separate rooms and move back and forth to talk to each side.
Mediation sessions end in one of two ways. Hopefully, both sides can come to an agreement, in which case they may sign the agreement that day before taking it to court for final approval. If the sides cannot reach an agreement, though, the case will likely proceed to trial.
Contact an Experienced Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer Today
It is always a good idea to bring a lawyer with you to a mediation session, and the Georgia personal injury attorneys at Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. can help protect your interests and rights during the negotiation.
If you are reading this article, you may not feel confident in your own attorney’s ability to negotiate on your behalf. If that’s the case and you are considering switching lawyers, we would be happy to meet with you to discuss your case.
For a free consultation, call (770) 205-8827 or visit our contact page.