- posted: Nov. 12, 2022
Those who have never been parties to a personal injury case often have a fundamental misunderstanding of how the process works. The phrase “personal injury claim” can conjure imagery of a legal drama. In reality, the vast majority of personal injury claims never need to see a courtroom. This is because they are settled using a special legal tool called mediation.
Personal Injury Mediation
Mediation is a popular option for resolving personal injury cases because it often represents a mutually beneficial situation. The injured party wants to be compensated for their injuries on the quickest timeline possible so that they have the material support needed to heal. The responsible party, meanwhile, usually wants to resolve matters in the quietest and cheapest way possible. Reaching a settlement through out-of-court mediation offers a path to both goals.
Some of the most important advantages of personal injury mediation include:
- They offer an expedited timeline with no lengthy court battles.
- They are cost-effective, as mediation fees are typically a small fraction of the cost of attorney fees for a court trial.
- Negotiations occur behind closed doors, avoiding the dreaded “media circus.”
- Everyone involved gets to step back from a tense situation and rely on the expertise of a professional and neutral third party.
- Mediation sessions can be scheduled at the convenience of the involved parties (in contrast to trial dates dictated by the court).
- The mediation style can be tailored to be as formal or informal as the parties are comfortable with (in contrast to the highly formalized and structured language used in courtroom proceedings).
- They are collaborative instead of combative; both parties can feel equally in charge of the process.
Finding A Quality Mediator
Mediation has many benefits when done correctly, but the quality of mediation is directly proportionate to the quality of your mediator. Any time a claim heads to mediation instead of court, it is important for the mediator hired to be agreeable to both parties. A professional mediator is a highly specialized kind of attorney. Some mediators in large markets like Los Angeles will have even narrower specialized niches, such as corporate mediation, personal injury mediation, etc.
Here are some of the most important qualities to seek in your personal injury mediator:
- Satisfied Clients: Do not be afraid to ask a potential mediator for references and testimonials.
- Neutral, Fair, and Impartial: You must be able to trust that your mediator has no conflicts of interest, such as being a relative or former employee of an involved party.
- Relevant Experience: There are many one-size-fits-all attorneys for hire in Southern California who happily list mediation and arbitration on their menu of services. However, the best mediators are those who focus on mediation as their profession.
Q: What can you not do during mediation?
A: The mediation process has a high rate of success in settling personal injury cases, but there are some important things that you, as a party to mediation, should never do. Do not be argumentative or confrontational. State the facts without including accusations or insults. Do not get baited into a state of heightened emotion by someone else who has failed to enter the process in good faith. Mediation must be collaborative to succeed; when you turn it into a combative process, you risk undermining your own interests. There are also things you must avoid in your personal life when engaged in the mediation process. For example, if your case involves a claim of long-term physical disability, you should obviously not be seen performing difficult yard work.
Q: What is the most difficult part of the mediation process?
A: The most difficult part of the mediation process can be different for every case and every person involved. For some, the material struggle to make ends meet while recovering from an injury and waiting for a mediated settlement will be the most difficult thing. For many others, it is the emotional toll of having to discuss a traumatic injury with strangers who may cast doubt on their story. Personal injury mediation will necessarily involve difficult conversations about touchy topics. It is crucial to remember that allowing these situations to become more dramatic or emotional than necessary will not improve outcomes.
Q: What is the average personal injury settlement in California?
A: The payout for a personal injury settlement can vary greatly depending on the severity of your injury, the extent of treatment required, whether permanent damage was suffered, and other factors. A typical slip-and-fall injury, for example, usually nets the injured party a payout of around $20,000, while the settlement for an injury involving the loss of a limb could be many times that amount. In California, there is no cap on damages related to pain and suffering, so a settlement for an extraordinary personal injury case can be many hundreds of thousands – or even millions of dollars. The exception to this is medical malpractice cases, where the cap for non-economic damages related to pain and suffering is $250,000.
Q: How do you win a case at mediation?
A: A focus on trying to “win” mediation may be a sign that you are approaching the process the wrong way. While there is certainly negotiation and argument involved, mediation should be thought of as a collaborative process that leads to an expedited resolution and a fair payout. Mediation is not about “winning” or “losing.” It is about an injured person and the responsible party working together with a qualified, neutral mediator to determine the proper compensation for an injury without the need to take the case to a costly trial.
The Law Offices Of Michael G. Wales: Your Trusted Mediator For Personal Injury Cases In Southern California
We are Southern California mediation specialists who are ready to take on your most complex personal injury cases. We can help guide them toward out-of-court resolutions that are expedited and equitable. By relying on online spaces and virtual meetings, we can help keep even the most heated cases feeling neutral, impersonal, and businesslike, all while offering effective and compassionate solutions. To find out why so many individuals and organizations turn to the Law Offices of Michael G. Wales for all their mediation and arbitration needs, contact us today for a consultation.