If you have a Connecticut injury or accident case or you have been the victim of medical malpractice, where you have reached maximum medical improvement, one of the options which you could discuss with your attorney is to engage in non-binding mediation. Mediation is the process whereby both sides to a case agree upon an impartial, experienced, third party (Mediator) who has no decision making authority but who will attempt to assist both sides in voluntarily negotiating an acceptable resolution of a case.
You should understand that the Mediator is someone chosen by the lawyers because that person has the training and experience in resolving disputes and has no bias for or against either side and whose job is to analyze the facts and issues and help the parties in reaching an equitable resolution of the case. Most mediators practice “shuttle diplomacy” in that the Mediator goes back and forth discussing matters with one side at a time without the other side being present. Some mediators attempt to facilitate a settlement without offering an opinion as to the value of your case while others are evaluative and offer their opinion as to a proper settlement figure. The timing of a mediation is very important. The best time to submit a case to mediation is at that point when ALL parties and their attorneys are prepared to engage in serious settlement discussions.
Generally, a position statement or summary of all of the facts of the case from each party’s perspective (theories of liability and weaknesses, medical bills and records, lost wage information, permanent disability ratings, defenses, etc) are provided to the Mediator in advance of the scheduled mediation. These materials are reviewed by the Mediator so that the Mediator is aware of the positions of the parties. It is extremely that the client be made a part of the process of developing the position statement so that all issues are properly presented to the satisfaction of the client.
Most Mediators begin the mediation process with a group meeting involving the Mediator and all the parties (all clients and all lawyers). Generally, the Mediator will introduce himself or herself and explain to the parties the ground rules and what to expect from the process. Most Mediators require that all parties sign an agreement that the Mediator will not be called as a witness for any purpose and that all parties agree to keep an open mind and voluntarily participate in the process.
A Mediator will generally start by allowing each party an opportunity to present their case. The Client may be called upon to explain issues in the case or describe how the injuries sustained in the accident have affected that individual. The Client may be hearing from the insurance company’s lawyer who may make a number of very negative comments about the client and/or their case. The Client should be prepared for these possibilities and should not allow these negative comments to detract from their willingness or ability to move towards a settlement.
Many times the mediation process moves very slowly, where very low offers are initially made and a potential settlement might seem impossible. You need to be aware that much of your time will be spent waiting while the Mediator moves back and forth between rooms discussing various issues with each side’s lawyer. You need to be fully advised as to how this process works so you will realize that it takes time for this process to develop. Two of the most important considerations to keep in mind during the process are to be patient and to be flexible.
Being flexible means not staying stuck on a figure that you are not prepared to move from especially if it is close to your initial demand. Remember a reasonable settlement is generally reached when both each party is mildly unhappy with either the amount they are getting or the amount they are paying. It is important to review all of your materials regarding your case and be fully prepared about your case well in advance of your mediation, so that you are prepared to intelligently discuss your case. You should insist that your lawyer rehearse what might be asked of you and what you should say so you are completely prepared and more comfortable with the process. Above all, be flexible, listen, be patient and make sure everything is completely explained to you so you can make an intelligent decision as to whether or not to settle your case.. If you understand and follow these instructions then you will improve the likelihood of your chances of obtaining a settlement and avoid the uncertainty of a trial.
If you have any questions about the process or if you have been injured in an accident and need some free advice, call and speak to our Harvard Law School trained mediator and negotiator. We can provide you with FREE assistance and help in one of three ways:
- Call us toll free at (888) CT-LAW 00 and speak to us directly so we can answer whatever questions you might have. There is no charge or no obligation for this free call;
- Fill out our brief online email form and we will get right back to you so we can answer your questions; and
- Request our FREE book “The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims” by visiting www.hcwlaw.com and filling out our two question request form so you can find out what you should and should not be doing.