Mediation is a means of settling disputes with the assistance of a neutral third party. It’s critical to understand the process if you want to reach a favorable agreement with the other person. You could voluntarily participate in mediation. However, in Georgia, it is becoming more and more common for judges to require mediation before a case proceeds to trial.
If your case goes to mediation, you and your opponent and the attorneys for both sides will get together to try to reach an arrangement that benefits both parties. There must be a neutral third party called a mediator acting as the meeting facilitator. The discussions may take place in separate rooms, where each side meets with the mediator to discuss their view of the case. The mediator typically listens to both sides’ arguments and communicates offers between the parties.
Do I Have to Participate in Mediation?
It’s possible for both sides to agree to mediation voluntarily. Mediation is an excellent tool for settling cases. If each party is willing to try to settle, they could avoid lengthy trial proceedings.
However, you shouldn’t get your hopes up. Sometimes the court orders mediation. If the other party isn’t interested in settling, it will be a waste of time. Reaching an agreement isn’t likely unless both sides are willing to compromise.
Preparing for Mediation
You should prepare for mediation adequately. Many personal injury attorneys meet with their clients at least one hour before the mediation begins. Your lawyer might explain the process and advise how to handle the meeting.
Since a positive result isn’t guaranteed, you should follow your lawyer’s recommendations. You need to keep a level head and be willing to negotiate with the other side. Your emotions can’t get in the way of resolving the case.
Steps Involved in Mediation
When you attend mediation, the first thing the mediator will do is introduce themselves. They might explain the purpose of the meeting and how the meeting will proceed. They will also ensure that each party involved in the mediation knows each other and their roles.
Typically, the insurance company’s defense lawyer and claims adjuster attend. However, the defendant might not have to show up unless explicitly directed to do so by the court. Other times, it isn’t a requirement for the defendant to participate, but they might choose to anyway.
After introductions, the mediator will pass a document around for everyone to sign. The document is a standard confidentiality agreement. Each party in attendance must agree to keep what they discuss at mediation confidential. That means they can admit or agree to things they wouldn’t say during a trial.
All topics discussed during mediation must remain confidential. The signed agreement provides a layer of privacy for everyone participating. It might create a comfortable atmosphere allowing each person to relax and speak freely.
The meeting will proceed to opening statements after everyone signs the confidentiality agreement. The plaintiff’s attorney can begin with their opening statement. They will discuss the case and information a jury might see and hear if it goes to trial.
The defense lawyer will also give an opening statement. They might discuss the evidence they have that could work against the plaintiff. Defense attorneys often try to explain why they’re likely to win in court. However, it’s usually an intimidation tactic to scare plaintiffs into low settlements.
After opening statements, the mediator will separate the opposing parties and bring them to different rooms. From that point on, the mediator will go back and forth between the rooms, discussing the case with both sides.
Negotiations can start between the plaintiff’s lawyer and the defense lawyer. The mediator’s job is to communicate each party’s position and settlement offers. They can also recommend ways to resolve the case.
If you reach a settlement agreement, both parties will sign a document agreeing to the negotiated terms. The attorneys will prepare the necessary documents to file with the court. The case is over, and no one has to fight in court.
If you can’t settle the case during mediation, you must prepare for trial. It might be possible to reach a settlement agreement after mediation. However, once the judge leaves the decision to the jury, you don’t have the opportunity to negotiate anymore.
Chris Hudson Law Group has represented accident victims in personal injury cases since 2005. We believe in advocating for clients’ rights and fighting for the justice they deserve. Our legal team is ready to help you hold the negligent individual or company liable for their actions and seek the compensation you’re owed.
If you were injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, do not hesitate to contact Chris Hudson Law Group. Our Augusta personal injury lawyers are available 24/7 to speak with you about your case. Call (706) 863-6600 right now for your free consultation.