When you suffer injury because of someone else’s negligence, that negligent party owes you compensation for the costs and the pain you experience. Representation from a personal injury lawyer helps ensure you are compensated fairly. Some accident victims are afraid to consult with an attorney, thinking they will have to undergo weeks or months of hostile court proceedings.
In recent years, more personal injury cases have been settled with mediation. Through the mediation process, a skilled personal injury lawyer from John Foy & Associates will negotiate a fair settlement without you having to enter a courtroom.
Mediation Is an Alternative Dispute Resolution
Working through a personal injury case is stressful. First, you must deal with the pain and stress of your injuries and the emotional trauma of the accident that caused your injuries. Then you have to manage the financial fallout that comes with medical bills, missed days at work, and any other accident-related costs.
The stress of pursuing the compensation you deserve can be lessened with representation from a skilled personal injury lawyer. However, the at-fault party’s insurance company may still put up a fight during negotiations, forcing you to take your case before a judge.
Mediation, a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), provides a less stressful solution. Your attorney and the at-fault party’s representatives sit down with a neutral third party who acts as a go-between to moderate a resolution without the expense and stress of a trial. The State of Georgia has specific rules governing ADR processes.
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Selecting a Mediator
Mediation can be voluntary, though sometimes a judge will order mandatory mediation before hearing a case in a courtroom. Your attorney and the at-fault party’s lawyer both have a say in selecting a mediator, which makes it essential for you to have an attorney with the insight to choose someone who will be the most beneficial for your case.
Clearly, fairness is a top priority, so your attorney will investigate to ensure the mediator is truly a neutral party with a thorough understanding of the mediation process. Your lawyer will determine whether the proposed mediator is aware of issues typically presented during mediation and of the expenses and risks of litigation.
Often, retired judges or private attorneys serve as mediators. Whatever their specific backgrounds, mediators should be recognized as credible by both sides.
How Mediation Works
Mediation takes place at an agreed-upon location and starts with both parties and the mediator in one room. The mediator will explain the process and have everyone sign a confidentiality agreement. This way, if no settlement is reached and the case must go to trial, anything said at mediation cannot be used at trial.
This agreement allows each side to speak freely and perhaps offer information they would not reveal in a courtroom.
After the initial discussion, your attorney will present an opening statement and evidence justifying the settlement demand. Depending on the amount of evidence shown and other factors, this statement can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
Then, the defense offers its opening statement, presenting an argument for what they think your compensation should be. Usually, you can count on the amount they present to be less than you truly deserve.
Defense attorneys will try to manipulate you into accepting a too-low offer, sometimes through intimidation, fear tactics, and apparent friendliness or concern. When you have an experienced legal mediation advocate by your side, you do not have to respond to or worry about the defense’s strategies. You can depend on your personal injury lawyer from John Foy & Associates to protect your interests.
Following the opening statements, each party will move to a separate room. The mediator will go back and forth between the rooms, sharing relevant information with each side. Your mediator will not disclose information you want to be kept confidential from the defense, and vice versa.
When a mediator speaks to you, you can expect:
- Questions to help the mediator understand your case thoroughly
- Discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of your case
- Offers from the other party and discussion of counter offers
- Reminders about the risks of going to trial
The goal of mediation is to reach a settlement agreement. Most cases require more than one mediation session to reach a resolution.
Outcomes of Mediation in a Personal Injury Case
A successful mediation leads to a settlement agreement. When this happens, each party signs a document recording the terms of the agreement.
From there, the attorneys prepare the required paperwork to file with the court. You, the plaintiff, sign a release showing you agree the case has been resolved.
If your mediation is unsuccessful, both parties may continue attempting to negotiate and settle as the trial date draws closer. When continued negotiations fail to produce a resolution, your case will go to trial. You may settle even as the court proceedings progress. If not, the case will be decided by a jury.
Why Having an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer at Mediation Is Important
An experienced personal injury attorney is invaluable during mediation. First, your attorney will be part of the mediator selection process, ensuring the mediator is not biased in favor of the specific defendant or for defense positions in general.
Your attorney will also guide you through the mediation process, protecting you from saying something the defense can use against you and protecting you from tricky insurance company practices. Even if mediation is unsuccessful, a good personal injury lawyer will learn valuable information from the process that helps them anticipate what the defense may focus on at trial.
Strong Representation for a Successful Mediation Outcome
Successful mediation can save you time, money, and stress. But to see those outcomes, you need a strong, knowledgeable personal injury attorney representing you at all mediation sessions. You can trust your attorney to select a mediator with great care, advise and advocate for you throughout the mediation process, and stand firm so you get the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Reach out to the team at John Foy & Associates for a free consultation and secure the representation you need.