Mediation is a common form of alternative dispute resolution for injury claims. Mediation is fast, inexpensive, and confidential, and these attributes make it attractive to both defendants and plaintiffs in injury cases. However, the best way to enjoy the benefits of mediation as an injury victim is to prepare for it.
Below are some tips on how to prepare for personal injury mediation.
Understand the Process
You need to understand the mediation process. That way, you know what to expect at each stage of the proceedings and how to react. A basic outline for a mediation process goes as follows:
- The first session is likely to start with introductions to allow everyone to know each other’s roles.
- Expect everyone involved to sign a confidentiality agreement that keeps the details of the negotiations private.
- You might or might not have an opening statement from your lawyer as the plaintiff.
- Each side of the case may have separate sessions with the mediator as well as joint sessions.
- Each side must sign a written agreement to accept the terms if you settle.
The above is just a general guideline. The law doesn’t prescribe a specific format mediation must follow. Your lawyer will brief you on what to expect in your case.
Prepare Discussion Points
Prepare the major points of discussion together with your lawyer. If you had tried other forms of negotiations before the mediation, then your previous points of disagreement should form part of your discussion points. Maybe you wish to discuss:
- What the value of damages the injury has caused you are
- Why you think the defendant is wholly liable for your damages
- How you expect the settlement payment (For example, whether you want a lump sum or structured payments)
Expect the other side to come prepared with their points too. Your lawyer will discuss with you some of the defendant’s potential points of discussion.
Avail the Relevant Evidence
You should also gather the evidence you need to convince the defense of your case. Examples of such evidence include:
- Pictures of your injury
- Witness statements
- Medical records
- A copy of the police report
Gather as much evidence you can get since you don’t know which one may help you turn the tide to your advantage.
Know Your Bottom Line
Mediation is guided negotiations. Like other forms of negotiations, you should be clear on the minimum acceptable terms. Note that you may discuss much more than the settlement award during mediation. You may also discuss other points such as:
- Whether the defendant publicly accepts liability for your damages
- Whether your award is confidential or you can share the details with others
- What nonmonetary resolutions you expect from the defendant (for example, if you expect the defendant to avoid risks that might cause similar accidents in the future)
Tell your attorney what you expect from the mediation so that they are clear on what to aim for, accept, or deny.
Manage Your Expectations
Most injury cases resolve via alternative dispute resolution methods, of which mediation is one. However, you may have to work for the settlement. Specifically, you should expect:
- To go through multiple negotiation sessions
- To hear a lot of statements from the defendant that you disagree with
- To have lengthy discussions that may prove tiresome
- To reach a compromise by the time the process ends
In short, mediation is worthwhile but requires some investment from your side.
The Wenck Firm is experienced in alternative dispute resolution methods and litigation. We can help you get compensation for your accident through any of these means. Contact us for a free initial consultation to determine the best way to pursue your damages.
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