How Mediation Works In a Texas Personal Injury Case
After the depositions have been taken and the discovery has been exchanged, it's almost time to take the case to trial. But before we go all-in at the courthouse, there's a final step: mediation. Since courts will not allow litigants to go before a jury until they have mediated, it's important to know what it is.
A "mediation" is essentially a meeting at a lawyer's office where each party's lawyer gets to present their side of what they think a jury will believe happened and what they believe at what dollar amount a jury will value your case. This is presided over by a "mediator" who is usually a retired judge. After all the parties present their best version of their case, the defendants go to one room and the plaintiffs to another. At this point, the mediator shuttles back and forth between the rooms and tries to help them hammer out a settlement. A "settlement" is an agreement that you will take a sum of money in exchange for dismissing your lawsuit.
Here's how it all works:
Questions Answered on This Page:
- How does the mediation process work in a Texas personal injury case?
- What exactly is mediation?
- How is mediation different from a trial?
Mediation is not a mini-trial.
Personal injury victims often mistake mediation for some kind of courtroom trial. It's not. It's actually quite informal. You won't have to testify and it's all completely confidential. Your attorney does all the talking to the mediator and to the other attorneys, and the worst thing that can happen is that you waste a day's worth of time trying to settle a case.
Rather than a "trial," what happens instead is that your attorney will make a settlement demand to the other side. No matter how they frame it, your attorney will make some kind of offer to end the case for a specific sum of money. The defendants, through the mediator, will make a substantially lower offer to settle. The rest of the day goes on like this, with your attorney making a counter-demand, the defendants make a new offer, and so forth.
The mediator's job during all of this is to understand what your best arguments are and use them to compel the defendants to see things your way. Conversely, the mediator will also hear all of the defendant's best arguments and use that as leverage to attempt to get you to settle. Mediators have no dog in the fight. They don't care whether the case settles or not. They're just there to act as the voice of reason, and sometimes both sides need to hear that voice.
While we pride ourselves on our ability to see things through a jury's eyes and not be compelled by ego (as many, many attorneys are), even we can get so invested in our client's case that we see things with rose-colored glasses. The mediator's job is to help everyone see things objectively and to appreciate the inescapable fact that no matter how good you are in the courtroom, the wackiest group of jurors in history could show up on the day of your particular case, so there's never any certainty when you go to trial.
You don't have to settle, but it often happens.
It's important to keep in mind that this is not a binding process. If you and your attorney don't believe that the defendant has made a fair offer to settle your claims, then you can always refuse. Further, the defendant's lawyer cannot later tell a jury that you offered to settle your case for X dollars or that they offered you Y but you wouldn't take it. The whole point of mediation is to try to come to an amicable settlement between the two parties. But no matter what happens in mediation, neither side can bring it up in the courtroom. Still, with the specter of a trial looming, litigants often feel pressure to get the case over with.
During mediation, you'll always have your attorney by your side to advocate on your behalf. That's why it's vitally important to select a personal injury lawyer who has the experience and track record on your side:
- The opposing lawyers must think that if your case goes to trial, your attorney can deliver.
- No defendant will settle if he or she hasn't seen sufficient evidence that they could be on the hook for a lot of money
- Inexperienced attorneys often cave under pressure at mediation or make such unreasonable demands that no progress is made
Call Grossman Law Offices Today:
If you've experienced a serious injury, you'll need a seasoned attorney with a track record of winning cases. The lawyers at our firm have successfully settled cases at mediation because they know how to prove their cases up. Don't risk your case on a lawyer without the same level of experience the attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have. Give us a call at (855) 326-0000.
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