There are several hundred thousand personal injury claims filed in the US each year, but less than 5% of these cases end up going to trial. The vast majority of claims are settled sometime in the pre-trial stage, and there are some instances when a settlement is reached almost literally “on the steps of the courthouse”.
There is a very good reason why most personal injury claims settle. Litigation is costly, time-consuming, and unpredictable, and it is generally in everyone’s best interests to avoid it.
A lot of claims are settled through negotiation between the parties, and this is where the strong negotiating skills of a reputable personal injury attorney can prove vital. A skilled and knowledgeable attorney can often help the plaintiff secure a settlement that fully compensates them for their injuries – without the need for a long, drawn-out trial. But that said, it is important that the plaintiff’s attorney is fully prepared to litigate the case if the other side is not willing to negotiate in good faith.
If negotiations between the parties fail, mediation could be tried before taking the case to litigation. If successful, personal injury mediation could bring the two sides toward a reasonable settlement without having to go to court.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that is used to try to resolve various types of legal disputes, including personal injury claims. The process is facilitated by a third-party mediator who meets with the participants and attempts to bring them to a mutually agreeable resolution. The mediation process is informal, and the sessions usually take place in a neutral location, such as the mediator’s office, although virtual mediation has also been used in a growing number of cases since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Mediation may or may not be required depending on the specific circumstances of your case. If a lawsuit has been filed, then the parties might be ordered to go to mediation before a trial would begin. If a lawsuit has not yet been filed, then the process is entirely voluntary. In either case, the mediator has no authority to impose a settlement. For any settlement to become legally binding, all participants must agree to it.
What are the Advantages of Personal Injury Mediation?
As we have talked about earlier, the greatest potential benefit of mediation is the possibility that it could help break an impasse between the plaintiff and the defendant without having to go through a costly and protracted court trial. At times, the outside perspective of a neutral mediator can be helpful in identifying more creative resolutions that the two sides may not have previously considered.
Another potential benefit with mediation is that it can jumpstart an injury claim that has been lying dormant and the insurer has paid very little attention to. At any given time, insurers typically have very large caseloads, but when a personal injury claim goes to mediation, the insurance company representative (or their legal counsel) is forced to give the claim the attention that it deserves.
Some other advantages of personal injury mediation include:
- Private and confidential process.
- Easier to schedule because sessions do not have to be worked into the court calendar.
- Parties retain control over the outcome rather than rolling the dice on a jury verdict.
What are the Disadvantages of Personal Injury Mediation?
Although the mediation process can be beneficial in personal injury cases, it is not without its drawbacks. Some of the disadvantages of mediation include:
- A professional mediation service can be expensive, even if the process takes only a few hours.
- It can be difficult to get insurers to agree to mediation because of the extra time and work it requires.
- Since the participants are in control of the outcome, there is no guarantee that mediation will ultimately produce an agreeable settlement.
Work with a Seasoned Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer
Whether your personal injury claim ends up in mediation or not depends on the specific circumstances of your case; but whichever way your case goes, one thing you should make certain of is that you retain an experienced attorney as early as possible in the process. Insurance companies are known for employing a number of different tricks and tactics designed to diminish the value of your claim, and with so much at stake, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.
If your injury occurred in Alabama, M. Adam Jones & Associates is ready to go to work for you! Get in touch with our office today to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.
206 N. Lena St.
Dothan, AL 36303