Even if you have a strong case against someone proving them responsible for your injury, convincing them to pay you a fair amount of compensation can be extremely difficult. Pursuing your claim all the way to civil court can be time-consuming and expensive, and there is never a guarantee of success. However, if you can’t get a good outcome from settlement negotiations, you may be worried that taking your claim to court is your only option.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative that avoids the hassle of filing a lawsuit while streamlining the settlement negotiation process: mediation. This involves working with a “mediator” to find a solution everyone can agree on. Here are the facts about mediation in a personal injury case, including what to expect from mediation sessions and when mediation might—or might not—be beneficial for you.
What Makes Someone a Good Mediator?
A mediator sits down with both parties involved in a legal dispute, listens to what everyone has to say and what evidence they have to support their arguments, and then gives their neutral, unbiased opinion about a fair solution. Mediators for personal injury cases can have various backgrounds—while they’re often former attorneys or judges, they can also be current or former social workers, teachers, therapists, or even religious leaders.
The only requirements set by state law for mediators in Pennsylvania apply to mediators who work directly with the court system. Those mediators must have a bachelor’s degree and complete 40 hours of specialized training. Many mediators specialize in particular cases, so it’s often worthwhile to look for someone with experience with personal injury lawsuits.
The Process of Personal Injury Mediation
Usually, the first thing a mediator in a personal injury case will do is get everybody involved in the case together in a room. Then, the mediator can explain their plans for the mediation session and the rules for how both sides may present their cases. The mediator will often separate the parties into different rooms and go back and forth between them, hearing input from each side and offering suggestions about possible resolutions.
Unlike a judge, a mediator has no legal authority to make any decisions about the case on their own. Their role is to ensure everyone understands where the other side is coming from. If both sides agree on a fair settlement during the mediation session, the mediator can help them put the agreement in writing and resolve the case without going to court.
Should You Use Mediation in Your Personal Injury Case?
Mediation is entirely voluntary, and whether it works depends on how willing both sides are to cooperate in finding a mutually agreeable solution. If one party is unwilling to negotiate in good faith, or if there’s an emotional side to the case that would make it hard to discuss things calmly, mediation might not be the best choice.
An experienced attorney at Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers can provide more information about mediation in a personal injury case. We are prepared to represent you and stand up for your best interests throughout the process. Call us today to learn more.