Mediating a Personal Injury Case
You, as a personal injury attorney, have taken in the typical automobile accident case, investigated it, obtained all the documents and medical records and medical bills, submitted a detailed case history and settlement demand package to the insurance company, filed a lawsuit, and now either by agreement amongst counsel or through court ordered mediation, find yourself attempting to prepare for the scheduled mediation of your personal injury or wrongful death case. What steps should be taken to increase the odds of successfully mediating and settling you clients claims.
First and foremost, is that if you have properly worked up the case then you should be ready to mediate. Know the strengths and weaknesses of the claim. You need to know if the defendant will make a horrible witness or if your client is likeable. You need to know the liability issues and any problems with gaps in medical treatment or causation hurdles regarding the nature of your clients injuries.
Make sure that any important information is in the hands of opposing counsel or the insurance adjuster well in advance of the scheduled mediation as most insurance adjusters bring authority to settle to the mediation hearing based upon the facts and evidence that they had prior to the scheduled mediation. Holding back the smoking gun evidence or not being prepared and showing up with additional medical treatment and bills will not usually be considered in the settlement value negotiations on the day of the mediation.
Meet privately with the mediator prior to the joint caucus to educate him or her on any problems that you feel need to be addressed so that they can have a heads up regarding how to tackle certain situations. Forewarned is forearmed. This will assist the mediator in understanding critical issues so that they can have time to reflect and be prepared to discuss and deal with certain problematic issues involved in your case.
Meet with your client and explain to them the mediation process and what to expect from the mediation, explaining the role of the mediator and how the negotiations will proceed in individual caucus. This is the time when you can explain to the client that your goal is to get the insurance company to offer every dollar that they have authority for but you also have to make your client understand the true meaning of the word “compromise”. Let the mediator know in advance if your client is one of those who has the “gillionaire” syndrome so that the mediator can assist you in reeling the client back into the bounds of reality. Above all else, in mediation, try to get your client to put their emotions on a shelf for a day and to look at mediation as strictly a business decision.
At the law offices of Falanga & Chalker we work hard to prepare our cases and clients for mediation so that they can get the largest recovery possible for their personal injury or wrongful death claims. If you want an experienced personal injury attorney on your side, then fill out the “Contact Us” form on this web site and expert help will be on its way to assure you the best financial recovery possible in your personal injury or wrongful death claim.