As nearly any Joplin personal injury lawyer recognizes, the majority of personal injury cases settle rather than going to trial. Settlements can be reached at various different stages of litigation with different people involved. For example, some victims are able to settle their claims with the insurance adjuster handling the claim. Some settlements occur when the lawyer for the victim (plaintiff) reaches an agreement with the lawyer representing the insurance company. Many settlements can be accomplished with a simple phone call. Mediation is another option.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a confidential settlement conference where the parties and their attorneys where the mediator (an impartial person) brings the parties together to try to negotiate a settlement. Mediation is private and confidential and is not considered as a determination of guilt or liability.
Who can serve as a mediator?
Technically speaking, a mediator can be anyone. In most cases, the mediator is a non-practicing attorney who has specific knowledge of personal injury law. In some situations, once the case has been filed in court, the judge assigned to the case may conduct a settlement conference in chambers. The judge will try to narrow the legal issues before the case goes to trial in an effort to get the case resolved. Regardless of who it is, the mediator is supposed to be unbiased, meaning not on any one party’s side.
What to expect at a mediation session
Most mediation sessions are normally handled the same way. It will begin with opening statements from each party, at which time the lawyers will be given an opportunity to state their client’s position, especially specific facts or theories they believe are in their favor.
Once opening statements have been made, the parties will be divided into separate rooms. At that point, the parties will trade settlement offers through the mediator. When you are represented by a Joplin personal injury lawyer, they will usually start high with the settlement offers, while the lawyer for the insurance company or the defendant will start really low. With each round of negotiations, the parties may get closer in number. If, however, the parties cannot agree on a settlement figure, then the case may still have to go to trial.
Advice from our Joplin personal injury lawyer about mediation
The most important thing to remember at mediation is to trust your Joplin personal injury lawyer. They have been through the mediation process, they are familiar with the law and with your case, so they understand how it all works. Not only do they understand the medication process better than a client who has not been through it, but they also understand how damages should be determined and can provide the best advice about whether to accept a settlement offer. In some situations, it is best to settle at mediation, in some cases, it’s not. So, trust your Joplin personal injury lawyer and follow his advice.
Settling a Personal Injury Claim
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, there are basically two ways to receive compensation for that injury. You can either settle the case out of court or obtain a judgment from the court. Although a jury verdict in a civil lawsuit would likely result in a larger recovery, jury verdicts are never guaranteed. Indeed, most personal injury cases settle before trial.
When does settlement usually occur?
Generally speaking, settlement will occur when either the insurance carrier or the defendant makes an offer of payment before liability has been proven. The offer of settlement can occur before the lawsuit is filed. It can also be made after the lawsuit has been filed, but before the case goes to trial. A settlement can occur virtually at any point before a jury verdict, or before the court enters an order dismissing the case. In some cases, a settlement can be reached while the jury is deliberating.
What happens once a settlement is reached?
If you reach a settlement at any point, part of the terms of the settlement will be that you give up your right to pursue all potential claims against that defendant, arising out of the accident or incident. This is accomplished by signing a full release with regard to liability. For instance, in a car accident case, the auto insurance carrier might offer you $25,000 to settle the case. In order to actually receive that $25,000, you must agree to either not sue that defendant for the car accident, or to dismiss any lawsuit that is already pending regarding the car accident.
If you have questions regarding mediation, settlement, or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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