If your claims do not settle, a personal injury or wrongful death case will usually go to trial in a year and half or two years depending on the complexity of the facts giving rise to the accident. If you are interested in reaching a resolution sooner, the best course is to try to settle your claims through mediation. Our personal injury attorneys thoroughly investigate your claims from the outset so that if you are interested in settling early on, we are prepared to do so to get you compensated as quickly as possible.
Mediation is a way to resolve differences without going to court. It can be much cheaper, quicker and less adversarial than litigation. Mediation brings the parties together to discuss the facts of the accident, the damages suffered, and the probable outcome of a trial. The ultimate goal of mediation is to find some sort of compromise to settle the case immediately without relying on a jury trial to achieve resolution. If you do not want to settle your case, our personal injury lawyers have over 25 years of trial experience and are ready to see your case through to the end.
If you decide to pursue mediation, take comfort in the fact that mediation is not binding unless a settlement is agreed to by both parties. This means you can still go to trial if you are not completely satisfied with the offer proposed by the other side at mediation. The benefit of an early settlement is early compensation, in addition to protection against the uncertainties of a trial.
Mediators are people who are trained in the necessary skills to work out differences between the parties. Most of the time, a lawyer or former judge will serve as the mediator of a personal injury case. The attorneys in the case usually discuss and agree on the person who will serve as a mediator, otherwise the trial judge may appoint a mediator.
The mediator will wait until both parties are present and then make introductions. The mediator will let the parties know that he or she is completely impartial to the dispute at hand.
Typically, each party will present their case and settlement goals to the mediator. These presentations also serve to confirm all of the issues that the parties believe are important in determining liability for the accident and the amount of damages owed to the injured party.
The client may also speak, or may defer to our personal injury attorneys to make a statement on your behalf.
Some mediators also ask questions during the opening presentations. Generally, this is not an effort to dispute the parties’ position, but a method for the mediator to obtain additional information that the mediator may believe to be important to a resolution of the case. Additionally, the mediator may use questions to find common goals between the parties in furtherance of settlement.
After each side has presented their case, mediator will often hold private sessions with each party to move the negotiations along. These private sessions are confidential. The goal of the private session is to find some common ground by exploring lots of options and to bring about solutions for each side to consider. This might lead to a final agreement to settle the problem.
By bargaining and finding workable options, an agreement may be reached, which is the ultimate goal of the mediation. If no agreement can be reached, then the case may proceed with litigation, and the mediation is over.
The primary rule of a mediation is that it is confidential. Often in personal injury and wrongful death cases, the mediator will make an opening statement which will set the ground rules for the mediation, so that it will move along smoothly. Additionally, the mediator may set a time frame for the mediation proceeding and confirm that each party has the time available for the process to work. Otherwise, a mediation is an open forum designed to promote negotiations to reach a resolution.
Each mediation is completely confidential. This means that the statements that each party makes in the mediation may not be presented as evidence in Court if the case does not settle and goes to trial. Furthermore, anything said to the mediator in confidence cannot be shared with any other party without express permission.
Most mediations only last one day. However, if the issues are complex, or if there are many different parties with different positions, the mediation may last two days.
The setting for the mediation is one that is not threatening to either party – a neutral location, usually the mediator’s office or a mediation center that possesses conference rooms that the mediator can use.
Perhaps you have heard of arbitration to settle a dispute. Mediation and arbitration are similar except for one main difference. Mediation is not binding unless a final agreement is reached. Thus, a mediator does not have the authority to make a decision unless both parties agree to the settlement. Conversely, an arbitration is similar to a trial and an arbitrator or arbitration panel acts like a judge. An arbitrator typically possesses the authority to make a binding decision based upon the facts and evidence presented.
Our personal injury attorneys in Houston, Texas have over 25 years of experience guiding clients through mediation and settlement, and will walk you through the process. Call the Stilwell Law Firm for your free consultation today: 713-931-1111 or 844-931-3111.