Personal injury mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution, meaning it is an opportunity to resolve a case without taking it to trial. Mediation is either the desired way to avoid a trial or, in some cases, a legal requirement. Learning more about personal injury mediation can help you know what to expect.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a meeting between two parties in front of an impartial third party. The goal of mediation is to resolve a conflict or dispute that exists between the two participating parties. Mediation is focused primarily on the needs and interests of the participants. It is not done before a judge and does not end in a legally binding judgment. Instead, it involves a mediator – an unbiased third party with training in conflict resolution.
The mediator will use a variety of conflict resolution techniques to help both parties find a solution they agree upon. If the two parties, with a mediator’s assistance, cannot come to an agreement, the lawsuit process will continue forward to a personal injury trial. Since a trial is much more expensive and takes longer than alternative dispute resolution, most parties do their best to compromise and resolve the dispute during mediation.
What Does Mediation Involve?
In general, mediation is a less stressful process than a personal injury trial. With mediation, you remain in control of the case’s outcome. You do not have to agree to anything you do not wish. Mediation can still be daunting, however, if this is your first time. Understanding the personal injury mediation process can give you greater peace of mind about the meeting to come. Expect five basic steps when you and your lawyer go to mediation:
- First, the mediator will introduce him or herself and both parties. Introductions state the names of both parties and their roles in the case.
- All parties sign a confidentiality agreement. The mediator will pass around a confidentiality agreement for everyone to sign. This allows all parties to relax instead of worrying that what they say will be used against them at trial.
- Opening statements. Both sides will give opening statements detailing why they are there and what they plan to prove.
- Exchange of information. The mediator will divide the parties into two different rooms and go back and forth with information about the case to facilitate an agreement.
- Settlement or continued negotiations. If mediation succeeds, both parties will agree to the proposed resolution. Both parties will sign a settlement agreement and this will be the end of the case. If mediation does not succeed, your case will go to trial.
Remember, throughout the entire legal process, the defendant’s attorney will have an agenda. Do your best not to react to anything the defense says during mediation. Do not make any faces, express any emotions or say anything while the defense lawyer is talking. Otherwise, the defense will use your reactions against you.
Do You Need an Attorney?
Hiring an attorney for personal injury mediation can make the process easier for you and your family. When you hire a San Antonio personal injury lawyer, he or she will thoroughly explain how personal injury mediation works beforehand. By the time you sit down for your meeting, you will know exactly what to expect. This can help you feel more confident and less stressed during personal injury mediation.
Hiring an attorney also ensures the protection of your rights during the meeting. Your lawyer can direct you in what to say and do to achieve the best possible outcome. Your lawyer can make sure you do not do anything that will incriminate you or hurt your case, such as reacting strongly to statements by the defense. If you have a complex personal injury case, your lawyer can represent you at trial if mediation fails. Discuss your personal injury case in more detail with an attorney in San Antonio today.