If you were injured in an accident and settlement negotiations have broken down, another option besides going to trial is lawsuit mediation.
Mediation is a meeting where an objective and neutral mediator attempts to assist the plaintiff and defendant to compromise and resolve differences to avoid a lawsuit going to trial. Mediation is not a court hearing, nor is it arbitration. Instead, a mediation helps the parties to simply agree to a settlement where both sides give something. The mediator will point out major sticking points in the lawsuit as well as the benefits and weaknesses of reaching a settlement. But neither party can be forced to settle after a mediation is complete.
Mediation is common. Judges will almost always both sides in a lawsuit to mediate before going to trial. Judges are well aware that mediation often works. Many personal injury cases can be settled satisfactorily before a trial that takes time and money on all sides. Even when the judge fails to order mediation, parties may agree to mediation to resolve a dispute and save the cost of a trial.
The biggest benefit to mediation for the plaintiff is that it will save time and money. Perhaps you think that you can win if the case goes to trial, but who knows what the jury will decide? Juries are fickle and notorious for giving verdicts that few expected. Mediation also provides the plaintiff with some amount of control and predictability. The plaintiff during the mediation is a participant and has power to change the outcome. At trial, the plaintiff usually is cross examined and will be judged by a jury of his peers that is unknown to them. The plaintiff also does not have to settle during mediation.
On the defendant side, it also is helpful that mediation will save time and money. Going to court can be an undesirable outcome for well known defendants who do not want a court proceeding against them entered into the public record. Mediation is a way to reach a conclusion to the case with far less publicity.
A benefit to both sides is that mediation will bring an end to the case within a few weeks in most cases. The plaintiff will most likely get a check for some amount, and the matter is concluded. Even after a trial takes place, it is possible and even likely there will be an appeal. This can drag on for months or even years in the most complex cases.
When mediation takes place, you and your personal injury attorney are there. If you want to have a spouse or relative there to weigh in, you may do so. The defense attorney will be there, but defendant may not be. But it is common for the insurance company to send a representative that represents the interests of their insured party. The insurance representative may make the final decision on the amount the plaintiff receives at mediation.
Both sides of the case will present their side of it to the mediator, who is agreed to by both sides to hear the case. The decision is usually rendered after a few days or weeks in writing. It cannot be appealed.