Personal Injury and Mediation - What to Expect
A personal injury lawsuit allows accident victims to seek compensation for their losses from the person or party that is responsible for the accident. Before a personal injury lawsuit goes to court, both parties may try to reach a settlement with a third-party mediator.
The experienced attorneys at Charpentier Law Firm discuss personal injury mediation and what to expect of the process so that our Melbourne, FL clients are well prepared for their meeting.
Is Mediation Required?
Although the court will sometimes mandate mediation, it is usually a voluntary process that is agreed upon by both parties. In some cases, it is ideal to reach a settlement through mediation because it can potentially save the plaintiff and defendant the time and money that would be associated with a jury trial.
Mediation can also be much less physically and emotionally draining for accident victims who have suffered serious or catastrophic injuries.
The Mediation Process
In most cases, mediation is attended by plaintiffs and their attorneys, as well as the defense attorneys. The defendant may also attend mediation, but does not do so in all cases. All parties in attendance will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
After introductions have been made, each side will be allowed to present an opening statement. These opening statements may be brief, or they may involve the presentation of photos, exhibits, charts, and other information.
These statements are meant to provide an overview of each side’s argument. The plaintiff’s attorney will go first, followed by the defendant’s attorney.
When opening statements are complete, the two parties will be separated. This allows each side to speak privately about what has been presented.
During this time, the mediator goes back and forth between the two groups. The mediator can ask questions to get further information about the case, and may point out weak areas of argument.
No matter what is discussed with the mediator, the mediator will not share it with the other side. It is the mediator’s job to encourage each side to reevaluate their position, suggest compromise, and try to get both parties to agree on a settlement.
If a settlement is reached, paperwork will be drawn up and signed by both parties. Any paperwork signed at a mediation is considered a legally-binding contract. Once a settlement is signed, it cannot be altered by either party.
What if We Don’t Reach a Settlement?
Fortunately, there is no risk to entering a mediation proceeding. If an agreeable settlement cannot be reached, the plaintiff has a right to move forward with a jury trial. It will then be up to each side to build their case and prepare to present their arguments to the court.
If you have been injured in an accident and would like to learn how you can collect compensation for your losses, contact us at your earliest convenience. Call (321) 308-8020 to set up a case evaluation with one of the experienced attorneys at Charpentier Law Firm.