Lawsuits are just one way of settling a personal injury claim. We try to avoid going to court whenever possible, because it can drag out your case for months or years, and that’s more time you have to wait until you see any money when you often need it sooner.
One alternative method of getting compensation that is common in Georgia and Alabama is mediation. Mediation is popular because it is both quicker and less expensive than pursuing a lawsuit.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a more formal process than simply negotiating with the insurance company on your own, but less formal than a civil lawsuit.
Unlike in a lawsuit, mediation does not involve going in front of a judge or jury in a courtroom. Instead, it usually takes place in an attorney’s office and is presided over by a neutral third party called a mediator, who is usually another attorney.
Like a judge, the mediator will listen to both sides of the story. But unlike a judge, a mediator cannot make any decisions on who is at fault or what to do. They can only offer suggestions on what to do. Their job is to try to help both parties come to an agreement.
What to Expect at a Mediation
The date of a mediation will typically be chosen weeks or months in advance so both parties have plenty of time to prepare.
At the mediation, the injury victim and their lawyer will have a chance to explain to the mediator why they think they are owed compensation and how much. Then the party alleged to be at fault and their lawyer will also have a chance to explain why they think they are not liable for the victim’s injuries or liable for more than a certain amount.
Once the mediator hears both arguments, each group will leave to their own room. Then the mediator acts as a go-between, carrying messages between the two groups. The mediator will also carry settlement offers and counteroffers back and forth until both parties finally agree on an amount.
It may take multiple sessions of mediation to arrive at an agreement. However, because a mediator cannot force either party to make a decision, not all mediations end in agreement. When mediation fails, the next step is often preparing for trial.
Should I Use Mediation for My Personal Injury Case?
That depends. You may not have a choice.
Some injury victims voluntarily choose mediation because it can resolve things much faster than going to court. You can also try mediation at any time: before filing a lawsuit, after filing but before going to court, or even post-trial if one of the parties appeals.
Another benefit of mediation is that it gives the injury victim more control. Injury victims have to accept whatever settlement the judge decides, even if it’s not as much as they’d hoped for. But in mediation, they can negotiate for a settlement of their choosing and can’t be forced to accept any decision they don’t want to.
However, it’s not unusual for a judge to order personal injury cases to go to mediation first to see if they can be resolved that way before being granted a trial.
Some reasons why an injury victim may not want to use mediation is because just like injury victims can’t be forced to accept a too small settlement, the insurance company can’t be forced to pay more than they want to at mediation.
Additionally, everything discussed at mediation is confidential. Sometimes victims may want people to know about how they were injured through a public trial because it could help protect others in the future. For example, if they were harmed by a dangerous product or a negligent medical professional, they may feel that settling by mediation is allowing the at-fault party to get away with sweeping their actions under the rug.
Our Team is Skilled at Personal Injury Mediation
The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Gary Bruce have plenty of experience at mediations, and we’re ready to help you resolve your personal injury claim with a settlement that addresses your damages completely.
Mediation has become an even more popular option in the COVID era, as it allows court cases that may have otherwise stalled to move forward and be handled remotely through mediation on virtual platforms.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury through no fault of your own, call the Law Offices of Gary Bruce today to learn what we can do for you.