The car accident mediation process is an alternative form of dispute resolution sometimes used to facilitate the settlement of car accident claims. At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers we have mediated car and commercial truck accident cases for clients successfully both before filing suit and after the suit is filed and the case has been litigated with depositions.
What Is Car Accident Mediation?
Mediation is a method of dispute resolution that involves a neutral third party – the mediator in this process. The mediator is often a retired judge or attorney who has experience in personal injury cases. The aim of mediation is to resolve the vehicular accident or other injury case without needing to take the case to court.
With mediation in Kentucky and Tennessee, each party have the chance to explain their perspective to the mediator hoping to settle the claim out of court for a a fair settlement and to avoid a jury trial. The difference between mediation and some other forms of dispute resolution is that the decision made by the mediator is not necessarily binding. Each party has the option of terminating the mediation at any point, or settling the case as recommended by the mediator.
The car accident mediation process typically involves the driver who filed the claim, the other driver or their legal representative, the insurance company paying the claim, and of course your attorneys there representing you. The costs of mediation are usually shared equally between the parties involved. This means it is vital to establish that the other party has a keen interest in resolving the matter to avoid wasting your time and money on the mediation process.
What Is The Difference Between Mediation and Negotiation?
Negotiation is an attempt by your lawyer and the defendant’s insurance company to reach a reasonable settlement agreement out of court. In most personal injury cases, the insurer makes a lowball initial settlement offer. Your attorney then sends a demand letter and the negotiation process unfolds.
The insurance company will seldom accept this initial demand which is usually much higher than the amount you expect to be collected. If you cannot reach an agreement, your legal counsel may suggest trying mediation to avoid taking the case to court or trial. As outlined above, mediation involves an unbiased third-party lawyer working with the parties unable to reach an agreement.
What to Do Before Mediation
At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers we spend hours planning before a mediation.
The brief should contain both arguments and settlement demands. The mediator receives these briefs at mediation, ensuring all parties have equal knowledge of the case. Preparing an extensive brief for the mediation and the client is vital since his or her appearance is important.
Mediation should not be confused with legal proceedings in a courtroom setting. Mediations take place at neutral locations, often at the office of the attorney or mediator. At the initial meeting, all parties convene in the same room. This allows each party to present their opening arguments. The mediator may ask questions at this stage to clarify any specifics of the case.
Next, the parties move into separate rooms. The mediator meets each party in private. They discuss the case as well as the settlement demands. The mediator remains neutral while using their knowledge and understanding of the law to help both parties to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments and demands more fully.
Mediators ask questions, relay information between the parties, and then make informed suggestions so both parties can more accurately evaluate demands and concessions made. The goal of mediation is for the mediator to help the parties involved to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.
Mediation Tips in Kentucky and Tennessee
When a car accident case is filed in court, most courts will offer mediation. Some courts will require mediation before proceedings go further in court. In Kentucky, mediation is always ordered before trial as it is mandatory.
You don’t need to wait for this to unfold, though. You can suggest mediation before your case is filed in court. Assuming that both sides agree to mediation, this is an encouraging sign that each party is amenable to settling the car accident claim without the time or the expense of going to court.
The more you know about the mediation process, the more effectively you can peg your expectations.
- Mediation costs money: At Flora Templeton Stuart, the cost of mediation is from your case recovery, with the costs being divided equally between you and the other party. Your attorney pays the mediation as a case cost and is reimbursed from your recovery.
- Involve the decision-maker for the other side: Make certain that the person responsible for making decisions on the other side gets involved with mediation. The person you are dealing with should be vested with the authority to resolve your claim.
- Choose the right mediator for the job: One of the most effective ways to get a great mediator involved with your settlement dispute is to contact the civil clerk at the local courthouse. They should be able to advise who mediates most of the car accident cases in that court. They may also know which mediators have the strongest track record of resolving mediated cases. Our lawyers want to select excellent plaintiff mediators.
- Neither party is compelled to act in line with the mediator’s recommendations: The mediator does not have the legal authority to force an agreement. This means you should not embark upon the mediation process unless you are convinced both you and the other party genuinely wants to resolve the accident claim.
What To Expect After Mediation
If mediation is successful and you reach a resolution, the mediator drafts a written car accident mediation agreement. All parties must then sign this agreement. A mediation agreement is typically considered an enforceable contract. In many jurisdictions, this can be upheld in court. In the event of mediation being unsuccessful, you can then decide whether or to file a lawsuit against the other party, pursuing compensation through the courts. At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, we make sure our clients are well prepared and represented throughout all of the steps in the mediation process.