The Basics of Mediation in a Personal Injury Case
Below is everything you need to know about mediation in a personal injury context. Please feel free to reach out to our office for a more in-depth explanation based on the facts of your case.
What is Mediation
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It is a form of negotiation that involves a neutral, unbiased third party. The role of the third party, or the mediator, is to help both parties reach a fair agreement. Mediation consists of an informal opening statement by each party in a case. Then, both parties go to separate rooms and wait their turn to speak with the mediator. When in the room, the mediator will poke holes in your argument, advising you why your case may not be worth as much as you want it to be.
One positive of mediation is it can be far more efficient than litigation. After filing suit on your case, getting inside a courtroom can take up to a year. Meanwhile, setting up a mediation can be as quick as finding availability on the calendar of the defense counsel, the plaintiff’s counsel, the mediator, and the parties in the case.
Mediation can be costly. A typical fee for mediation is to pay a mediation $500 per hour. Typically, this cost is split by both parties, though not always. Lastly, mediation is not necessarily binding. It is only binding if both parties agree to a settlement agreement while at mediation.
Who is a Mediator
The background of a mediator varies, but he is typically a retired judge with a wide breadth of experience in law. However, it may be an attorney who works solely as a mediator. The most important thing about a mediator is that he does not work for either side more than the other. The mediator’s goal is to achieve a resolution that satisfies both parties.
Goal of Mediation
The ultimate goal of mediation is to encourage communication. The mediator should identify issues with both sides to convince each party to come to some compromise. Fortunately, given that mediators have such experience, typically as judges, they have a solid idea of what personal injury cases are worth. Thus, they are in an excellent position to inform what an exact case may be worth at trial.
Mediation allows both parties to explore the various options to settle the case. Meeting in person generally is much more conducive to reaching an amicable agreement. Moreover, it allows for understanding each side’s goals, especially with a mediator present. Then, specific terms may be considered and added or removed.
Drawbacks of Mediation
There is one critical drawback and a drawback to consider that is advantageous in the long run. The crucial drawback is the cost. The cost, say $10,000, can exclude mediation as a worthwhile venture for many cases. This is true even if the cost is split evenly among the parties. While this drawback does not exclude high-value cases from benefitting from mediation, it wastes resources if your case’s ultimate value does not exceed, say, $100,000.
The other drawback to consider is how long a mediation can take. Mediation will usually last one day, breaking only for lunch. It may be in your attorney’s office, or it may be in the defense counsel’s office. Of course, if you go to trial, a typical personal injury case takes two days, so mediation is ultimately still more efficient.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
A personal injury attorney will be able to explain the basics of mediation as it applies to the facts of your case. Also, your personal injury attorney will let you know the advantages and disadvantages of your case. This may be different than the typical advice you may find online. Gelb & Gelb, P.C. has offices handling personal injury cases exclusively in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. We most frequently handle car accident cases, truck accident cases, nightclub injuries, wrongful deaths, and more. Contact us today for a free consultation!