If you were hurt in an accident and have exhausted settlement negotiations with the responsible person’s insurance company, the next step is filing a lawsuit in court. As part of the proceedings, you may be required to engage in a process called mediation, so it is important to understand what to expect. Your Miami personal injury lawyer can explain mediation and will be at your side to ensure the protection of your legal rights. However, some answers to common questions about mediation may provide a helpful overview.
What is Mediation?
In sum, mediation is an informal hearing during which the parties sit down with a mediation professional who attempts to guide them toward compromise in a personal injury case. The mediator is an impartial, neutral party who is specially trained to encourage productive conversations and effective communication. Through these efforts, the parties are often able to resolve differences and come to a mutually acceptable settlement regarding compensation.
Why Would My Personal Injury Case Go Through the Mediation Process?
Under Florida’s statute on court-ordered mediation, a judge must order the parties to participate in the process when one requests it. Your attorney may recommend mediation in some cases and file the proper motion, but the defendant may also ask the court for an order. Generally, any party can request court-ordered mediation at any point after the initial lawsuit has been filed.
How Does the Mediation Process Work?
Mediation will take place out of a courtroom, often at the mediator’s office or place of business. Before the proceeding, each party will put together a summary of the key facts and outstanding disputes. They will also include arguments regarding their position on the case. On the date of the mediation, the format loosely resembles a trial in the sense that you make an opening statement regarding your position on the accident. You can also present exhibits to support your point of view.
Next, the mediator will likely meet with each party separately to discuss key areas of dispute. There may be some back-and-forth as the mediator brings the parties closer together on settlement. If successful in reaching an agreement, you will sign the necessary documents to resolve your claim. However, if you do not agree, the matter will go back to court to proceed through the litigation process.
What are the Advantages of Mediation Over a Trial?
The two primary benefits of mediation are cost and time. A mediation session may be completed in less than a day, which means you could receive payment for your claim shortly thereafter. You will probably pay less in attorneys’ fees as well, since many lawyers charge a lower contingency fee when your case is resolved before trial.
Discuss Mediation with a Miami Personal Injury Attorney
If you have additional questions about mediation or want to know more about the process, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. Our lawyers can schedule a free consultation to explain the proceedings and give you a better idea of what to expect. We are happy to meet with you at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach to discuss your personal injury claim.
(image courtesy of Dylan Gillis)