Mediation allows opposing parties in a personal injury case to settle a lawsuit without needing to go to trial. It can be beneficial because litigation is time-consuming and costly. Many people prefer to resolve the matter outside of court.
However, mediation isn’t always the best approach. Spending time trying to negotiate the terms of a settlement agreement might not work. Taking your chances at trial might be the right choice, especially if you have a strong case.
Does Mediation Mean Settlement?
The terms “mediation” and “settlement” don’t mean the same thing. A settlement is an agreement between opposing parties in a personal injury case, while mediation is the process of negotiating a settlement to resolve the issue outside of court.
The goal of mediation is to agree to the terms of a settlement. A mediator obtains and relays information between the plaintiff, their lawyer, the defense attorney, and the claims adjuster. They don’t enter legal judgments or decide on their case, as their role is to communicate each side’s arguments and goals to the other and offer solutions for settling.
When You Should Avoid Mediation
Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Although it can be beneficial, there are times when it isn’t appropriate. Proceeding to trial might be a better decision if liability is clear, and the jury could rule in your favor. Instead of settling, you can receive higher compensation if you take your chances in court.
In some cases, though, mediation might be a waste of time and unsuccessful. You should avoid mediation for reasons like:
- Traumatic accident – A traumatic accident can lead to severe injuries and lifelong struggles. You are likely unwilling to settle your case for less money if you believe the other party should face the consequences of their despicable conduct. Settling during mediation might not get you the justice you want.
- Mutual animosity – Typically, mediation is unsuccessful if there’s animosity between opposing sides. Setting aside your feelings of resentment and anger is necessary to negotiate a settlement. Mediation won’t work if you’re unable and unwilling to take a neutral approach to resolving the case.
- Lack of preparation – You must prepare for mediation by reviewing the facts of the case and discussing a strategy with your attorney. If you go into mediation unprepared, you will likely struggle to have productive conversations with the mediator and clearly express what you want.
- Ego – Settling a case is challenging if either party’s ego prevents them from being reasonable. You might think you are entitled to a specific financial award, while the defendant believes they didn’t do anything wrong. Mediation won’t accomplish anything if they’re unwilling to meet you somewhere in the middle.
- Unrealistic expectations – You shouldn’t participate in mediation if you or the at-fault party is unwilling to negotiate a fair settlement. The opposing party isn’t likely to agree to your demands if you expect compensation far beyond what’s necessary and reasonable. You won’t accept an offer too low to compensate for your losses if the opposing party doesn’t bend a little to meet your interests.
- No one wants to compromise – Settling a personal injury case requires both sides to compromise. Each person must be willing to negotiate mutually beneficial terms of a mediation agreement. That means you might not get everything you want. However, you can resolve the case if you concede to some of the defendant’s demands without abandoning your interests.
- Conflicting goals – Mediation is not a good idea if both parties don’t have similar goals. Negotiating a settlement only works if you want the same outcome. Resolving the case isn’t possible if the defendant would rather take their chances at trial than settle for an amount they disagree with.
- Meeting an obligation – Mediation isn’t mandatory unless a judge orders it. If either party requests mediation and the other participates willingly, the odds of settling the case are good. However, if one of you attends simply because it’s a requirement, it won’t end in a settlement agreement.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
You should hire a lawyer immediately after an accident if someone else is at fault. However, if you haven’t hired a lawyer yet and there is an upcoming mediation, contact the San Diego personal injury attorneys of Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers now. You need an experienced team to assist you in negotiations and determine whether settling is in your best interests.
Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers provides dependable legal services and representation to clients in San Diego. We have recovered over $100 million in settlements and jury verdicts for accident victims so far. You can count on us to fight for you.
Call us at (619) 233-5020 for your free consultation to prepare for your mediation or discuss a recent accident and find out if we can represent you.