Mediation can get you the compensation you deserve, without ever stepping foot inside a courtroom
In the multi-stage process of litigating a commercial vehicle accident claim, mediation is the last stop before trial. It is essentially the civil justice system's attempt to broker a compromise that satisfies both parties. As you may know, settlement is the end result of most truck accident cases, primarily due to the financial toll and time commitment required of both the trucking company and plaintiff's attorneys from a full-blown trial.
However, trucking companies have to be forced to settle; it doesn't just happen. A good way to accomplish this is to mediate the case, thereby affording your attorneys the opportunity to present your account of what happened, in a setting akin to an informal mini-trial. This has the effect of making the trucking company fearful of what will happen if they have to litigate your case in front of a jury, hopefully prompting them to make a fair settlement offer.
Part of what makes mediation so challenging is that after a case begins, both parties' positions tend to harden. The injured person has staked out a position that he or she is owed a certain amount of damages, and the defendants either completely disagree that they are liable for the damages, or they dispute the dollar amount. Sometimes things get heated between the parties, and compromise can be a high bar to clear. A third party mediator helps both sides come to a common ground between a client receiving less than they deserve given their losses, and unjustly gouging the trucking company.
Questions Answered On This Page:
- How does mediation work?
- What are the steps during mediation?
- What happens if mediation fails?
- Is mediating a truck accident case different than others?
How Does Mediation Work?
Mediation happens live and in person, typically at a mediator's office. The mediation opens with a meeting, called a joint session, where both parties sit down together and present their view of the case to the mediator. Each party typically gets about 20 minutes for this portion of mediation. However, our attorneys are known for very lengthy and aggressive presentations. We often like to create videos that showcase the evidence that we'll show to a jury. In many cases, we will have conducted a mock trial before hand and will show footage of that to the defendants.
After the joint session, the parties break up and go into rooms alone with their clients. The mediator then shuttles back and forth between the parties, talks about the case, and makes suggestions. As you might expect, mediators vary in styles. Some are quite aggressive in trying to convince one or both sides to come to a settlement, while others try to stay evenhanded. If the mediator feels that one party is being especially unreasonable, he or she might push that party harder to come around.
A typical mediation for a truck accident victim would typically follow these steps:
- The prosecution's opening : The attorneys for plaintiff "Bob" explain to the mediator how they believe the truck accident happened. The truck's driver, having driven far too many hours, nodded off at the wheel. His truck then weaved into Bob's car, pushing him into the highway's divider wall. Bob became paralyzed as a result. He claims he needs at least $250,000 to cover his medical bills, lost wages, damage to his car, and pain and suffering.
- The defense's opening : The defense attorneys, who work for the trucking company, reply that they are not convinced that the accident was their driver's fault, but even if it was, they think that $250,000 is entirely too much compensation for Bob's losses. They are willing to offer $75,000 to avoid trial and settle.
- The mediation truly begins : After hearing from both sides, the mediator goes back and forth into the conference rooms where the parties are to hear from and counsel both sides. He tells the defendants that, from the evidence he has seen, there is really no chance that the driver wasn't the cause of the accident. Further, he has seen cases like this cost trucking companies huge amounts of money. The defendants confer with their lawyers and make a higher settlement offer. The mediator returns to the plaintiffs with the higher settlement offer and likewise advises them that, while the case is a good one, settling now avoids the pain of trial and the potential for a loss leaving them with nothing.
- A settlement is reached.
What If Mediation Fails?
If the parties cannot come to an agreement to settle, then the case goes on. The mediator declares an impasse and it's left to the trial court to decide. Sometimes cases settle after mediation "fails," because the ball at least got rolling on coming together. Mediation is a great way to try to get a case resolved, but if it doesn't work, it's not the end of the world.
The experienced truck accident attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have spent countless hours at mediation and know how to negotiate a fair settlement for you and your loved ones. During this process, you will have the benefit of seasoned legal minds to advise you of whether or not you should agree to any settlement. You don't have to feel alone in this process. We're here to help. Call us anytime at (855) 326-0000 (toll free).
Related Articles for Further Reading:
- Using Eyewitness Testimony Correctly to Win Your Commercial Truck Injury Case
- Special Considerations People Injured by Tow Trucks
- Recovering the Costs of Property Damage after a Truck Accident Is Harder than You Think