When you file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida, it is possible that your case will result in a voluntarily-negotiated settlement, and it is also possible that you will need a Florida personal injury lawyer to take your case to court. However, there is a third possibility as well: Your case could go to personal injury mediation.
What is Personal Injury Mediation?
Personal mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) during which the plaintiff and the defendant come together prior to their scheduled trial. During the mediation session, a neutral third-party “mediator” helps the parties try to move closer to a mutually-agreeable resolution.
When Does a Personal Injury Case Go to Mediation?
There are two ways that a personal injury case can go to mediation: (i) the parties can agree to mediate; or, (ii) a judge can order that the parties attempt to mediation before trial. If a judge orders the parties to mediate and either party refuses, then that party will be required to pay the full costs of the mediation.
What Happens During Mediation?
You can think about mediation as essentially a guided negotiation session. Both parties prepare in advance, and the mediator will review the facts of the case in advance as well. Then during the mediation session, the mediator offers suggestions for how the parties might be able to come to terms.
Importantly, the mediator does not make any decisions for the parties. Unlike a judge, this is not the mediator’s role. The mediator is a facilitator only, and his or her job is to try to move the parties closer toward a negotiated settlement—not to decide whether (and how much) the defendant has to pay.
What Happens After Mediation?
What happens after mediation depends on the circumstances of each individual case. If the mediation session brings the parties’ respective positions closer together, then it may pave the way to an out-of-court settlement. However, if the mediation session makes it clear that a pre-trial settlement is unlikely, then the case may still proceed to trial. That said, most personal injury claims settle, and mediation will prove to be an effective settlement tool in many cases.
Is Personal Injury Mediation Worthwhile?
Given that mediation does not result in a binding decision, is mediation worthwhile? While every case is different, in most cases the answer is, “Yes.” A key aspect of mediation is that both parties are required to participate in good faith; and, since there are costs involved (which our law firm covers while our clients’ cases are pending), both parties have an incentive to get as much out of the process as possible. While a positive outcome is not guaranteed, if mediation seems like it could be effective in your personal injury case, then pursuing mediation will likely be worthwhile.
Discuss Your Case with a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer