You have a personal injury claim underway and the next step is mediation. This can seem intimidating to someone who has never participated in mediation. Your lawyer should invest time and effort educating and preparing you long before the day the mediation is set to take place.
Are you anticipating an upcoming mediation for your case? Have you recently been injured in an accident where negligence played a role? The personal injury lawyers of Burger Law have extensive experience in mediation for their clients and are skilled in holding defendants and insurance companies accountable for the harm done to accident victims. If you are in need of a skilled, experienced law firm you can trust, Burger Law is the answer. Reach out to us today for a complimentary consultation regarding your case. Call us at 314-542-2222.
What To Expect in Mediation
Mediation is the process in which a neutral third party, called a mediator, meets with both sides of a civil claim and facilitates the resolution of their legal dispute. Mediation can often be very successful in settling cases, but the process is voluntary and neither party is obligated to accept an offer or demand during the mediation. A mediator will help assess the risks involved and offer strategies for coming up with a mutually agreed-upon number.
When you schedule a mediation, you and your lawyer will meet with a mediator and individuals representing the other party. Your lawyer should prepare you on what to expect and how to respond. The mediator is a friendly entity. They are there to try to help both parties move forward towards an agreement with which both sides are comfortable. If you have already experienced other steps in your case like a deposition, be assured that the mediation process is nothing like this. You will not have to recount your traumatic experiences in detail or be harshly cross-examined. Mediation is a neutral environment where the goal is to find a settlement that works for everyone so you do not have to proceed to a lengthy and difficult trial.
In the mediation, you should expect to see an environment that is:
- Informal: This is not like a court proceeding with rules dictating interactions. Think of it more like a conversation.
- Non-adversarial: The mediator is neither on the plaintiff’s side nor the defendant’s. Both parties involved are interested in coming to an agreement. While any discussion regarding the traumatic event that left you injured can evoke strong emotional reactions, your lawyer is there to help you participate calmly and respectfully.
- Flexible: Because this is not done within the courts, some creativity can be applied to coming up with an agreeable solution.
- Terms of agreements: Nobody can force either party to agree to a settlement in mediation. However, once both sides come to an agreement and sign for it, the terms of the settlement are enforceable in court.
Now that you understand the general environment into which you will be walking on the day of your mediation, here are some specific things you may encounter when you enter mediation:
- Statements you don’t agree with. The mediation begins with an opening statement from both parties. The defense attorney will likely say some things about the events or your case that you disagree with. This is upsetting, but understand that it is their job to challenge your view. You will have opportunities throughout the mediation to correct or respond to statements you feel are incorrect. Listen to the advice of your lawyer on when to speak and what type of response to give.
- Entering the mediation from opposite ends. What we mean by this is that you may go into the mediation demanding a high number, and you may be insulted or upset to learn that the defense is offering significantly less than what you find acceptable. These are negotiation tactics. Before you enter the mediation, your lawyer will work with you to help you understand what they believe to be a fair and reasonable figure, and they should also check with you to understand what your lowest acceptable figure is. Your lawyer will use their expertise to argue your case and submit demands, but it is ultimately up to you to accept or decline any offer.
- A lengthy process. Many clients look forward to mediation. Many mediators have a very strong rate of success with the cases they mediate, but these things take time. It depends on the parties and what they are willing to agree to, but mediation can take hours or all day. The mediator will communicate offers and demands between the parties until they come to an agreement. It is possible that you won’t come to an agreement within a single mediation session.
- A mediator that won’t pick sides. A good mediator will make everyone feel heard without taking sides. They consider the facts of the case, assess what both sides are asking for, and calculate what they think it will take to come to an agreement. This figure does not necessarily reflect what the mediator believes the true value of your case is. When both sides are coming from far apart, there needs to be some compromise.
St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer | Burger Law
Mediation is an often successful way to reach an agreement that all parties feel comfortable with. However, to be successful in mediation as a personal injury victim, it’s absolutely essential that you are represented by a lawyer who has experience in winning personal injury cases and in participating in successful mediations. Gary Burger and the attorneys of Burger Law have both. Contact us today to speak with an experienced lawyer about your case. Reach us by calling 314-542-2222 or contact us online.