Personal Injury Lawyers » Mediating a Car Accident in Texas
Mediation as a Form of Alternative Dispute Resolution Following an Automobile Accident
Before almost any lawsuit case can go to trial the Court will require some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Mediation is the most common form of ADR. What does that mean for your car accident claim? When does it usually happen and what is involved with a mediation?
What is Mediation and When Does it Happen?
Mediation is the final step on the way to trial. The court system has a large backlog of cases. It has an interest in having as many cases settle outside of trial as is possible. Mediation occurs before trial but after almost every other part of the case. Your attorney will have filed the lawsuit, done investigations on the case, taken depositions and exchanged all the important information with the other side (the discovery process). They will have already made a demand on the defendant. A demand is a request for the amount of money that it will take to make you whole after your injuries. Usually, the defendant is not willing to just hand over the cash. The Court will then send each side to mediation. The legal process before mediation can be a lengthy one, often well over a year from the initial time of the accident.
Mediation is a time in which the parties will get together in an informal setting and discuss the accident with a mediator present. Mediation is also non-binding. This means that the parties are not required to come to an agreement. Mediators can be anyone, not just attorneys. However, often retired judges will act as mediators. These mediators will have ruled on hundreds of car accident cases. This is the ideal situation, as they will have the best understanding of how the court system works and how claims similar to yours have fared in the past. They also will be listened to and have the respect of the attorneys for both sides.
The Mediation Process
The mediation itself can take as little as half a day or as long as a week depending on the parties and the complexity of the case. The process itself is very similar no matter how long it takes, there is a joint session and individual caucuses.
In the joint session, all the parties and the mediator are in the same room and each side can make a presentation about the strengths of their case. These are usually fairly short, and sometimes they are just skipped. Remember, by the time mediation occurs, the parties have already gone through the discovery process and exchanged significant information regarding the case, investigated it, and probably given depositions. The attorneys for all sides have a solid understanding of one another’s cases.
After the joint session, the parties will split into private areas and have an individual caucus. Here is where having a good mediator is vital. In the individual caucuses the mediator will go between the parties and exchange offers and demands. The mediator will discuss the claim with each side, discuss the offer or demand that has been made, and any potential counter offers being considered. The mediator usually understands the strengths and weaknesses of each case. He can influence the attorneys to raise or lower the offers based on his experiences with similar accident cases. If the case is settled, the court is notified and the case is all but over. If an agreement is not reached, the mediator will present the court with a mediator’s proposal. The mediator’s proposal is a report to the court of what the mediator thinks would be a fair compromise between the parties. The parties would then head for trial.
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How our law office Handles Mediation
We handle Mediating a Car Accident a little differently than most firms. The joint session is not skipped or given little attention. Instead, it is where we focus most of our attention. We will have a miniature trial during the joint session, presenting our evidence both to the defense and to the mediator. The whole idea here is to convince the mediator that we have the stronger case, that you are on the right side of the law, and that you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. Once we have presented our case, and convinced the mediator that we are on the right side of things, the mediator will then convince the defense to make higher offers in the individual caucuses. This allows us to steer the mediation. It gives us more control of the outcome, and increases the likelihood of settlement.
You must find an experienced and dedicated attorney to help you with your case to have a positive outcome. You need an attorney that is willing to go the distance for you. The attorneys at our law office have mediated thousands of car accident cases and been very successful for their clients. Give us a call at any time, day or night, to set up your free consultation.