My personal injury lawyer is talking about mediation. What does that mean?

Many personal injury lawyers will suggest that cases be settled through mediation when it makes sense to do so. While there may be occasions when cases only reach their conclusion in the courtroom, far more are settled before it ever gets that far. Mediation is one of the tools that is used to do this. It is often a less expensive, less stressful and less time consuming way to go.

Question: What is Mediation?

During a mediation, all the parties involved will meet with a neutral person (the mediator) in an effort to help resolve their conflict. Parties may include others involved in the accident and insurance adjustors. Mediation is voluntarily and the cost is usually split between participants. Parties are allowed to speak freely without having to worry that something they say may cause them to lose their case. They will speak to each other with the mediator in the room and to the mediator alone.

When speaking with the mediator alone, the mediator will try to help each party come closer to the other party’s way of seeing the situation until a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, each side is back to where it was before the mediation began.

Question: What is the benefit of mediation?

There are several reasons why your lawyer may recommend mediation. If you have been dealing with an insurance adjuster only by telephone, email, or through the mail, a face to face mediation can suddenly turn you into a “real human being” and not simply a case file on a desk. This may help to make the adjustor more sympathetic toward you.

If the insurance adjustor becomes involved in a mediation, he or she may also work harder on your case to come up with a settlement.

Additionally, if you case is settled through mediation, the process tends to be much quicker than it would be if it went to court – allowing you to collect your benefits sooner and get on with your life.

Question: Are there any drawbacks to mediation?

Professional mediators can be quite costly and there is no guarantee that your mediation is going to result in a settlement. Furthermore, the only way a mediation can happen is if the other parties agree to it.

Question: How do I know if I should request a mediation?

Your lawyer will advise you on whether they think the benefits of a mediation would outweigh the risks. If your personal injury lawyer has recommended mediation, it is because they believe that doing so will lead to a settlement. This is yet another way lawyers can assist their clients.

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