If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury caused by the negligence of another individual or entity in the state of California, there is a good chance you will be able to recover compensation for your losses. However, recovering this compensation can be challenging, particularly if the case has to go to trial. One of the most common alternative dispute resolution methods used for injury claims is mediation. It is important to understand what the mediation process entails and how this process can affect the outcome of your injury claim.
What Happens During a Mediation?
Personal injury mediations are overseen by a third-party neutral mediator. This individual is usually an attorney or a former judge who has extensive experience handling personal injury law mediation claims.
- Introductions. A mediation will begin with all parties in the same room. This will not take place at a courthouse. Mediations are more informal, and anything said during the mediation will not be able to be introduced into an eventual court case pertaining to the injury claim. The mediator will introduce both sides and likely give a brief overview of the facts of the case so far. The mediator may ask a few questions, but then the two parties will separate two separate rooms.
- Parties separate. The plaintiff (the injury victim) and the defendant (the alleged negligent party) will go to separate rooms, and the two parties will likely not see each other again until the mediation concludes.
- Mediator goes back and forth. The third-party mediator will be the one to go back and forth between the two parties. The mediator will listen to evidence and facts given by both sides, and they will have all of this from both parties as they work towards a solution. The mediator will not tell one side what the other party says, but they will use the information to encourage one or both parties to reach a fair settlement. Likewise, if the case does not look strong for the plaintiff, the mediator may encourage them to drop the claim altogether.
- Attempted resolutions. The ultimate goal of a mediation is to reach a resolution before a trial becomes necessary. Typically, this will involve some sort of a settlement that is more than what the defendant wants to pay and less than what the plaintiff wants to receive.
- The case is over or it goes to trial. If a settlement agreement is reached by the plaintiff and the defendant, the mediation will end, and the judge will be notified and allowed to approve or disapprove of the agreement. If the judge approves, the case is over. However, if the two parties cannot agree on a resolution, mediation will conclude, and a trial date will be set.
Working With an Attorney
Regardless of how you think your injury claim will end, you need to work with a skilled Long Beach personal injury attorney throughout the entire process. Your lawyer will be your advocate, and they will be the one to represent you during settlement negotiations, during the mediation, and at trial.