How Does Mediation Work?

When injured in an accident that isn’t your fault, it’s probably safe to assume that you, like most people, simply want to be paid what’s fair. While obtaining fair payment may seem like a simple and straightforward process, it can quickly become complicated and confusing.

When negotiations with the insurance adjuster fail, then options exist to try to ensure that your compensation is fair and just. From offer to counteroffer, court filings, mediations, to trial, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has experienced professionals on staff to counsel you at all levels of civil litigation – including mediation.

Will My Case Require Me to Go to Mediation?

Mediation is not the same thing as settlement negotiations, which occur at the beginning of your case, and mediation is only undertaken after settlement negotiations fail and you file a lawsuit. After settlement negotiations fail, you would begin your lawsuit by filing your case in civil court.

Whether or not you proceed to mediation depends on whether you file in superior court or district court. For the purposes of this blog, the primary difference between superior court and district court is the amount of money you seek in your lawsuit.

If your case involves more than $25,000, you must file it in superior court, and mediation is required. Superior court rarely allows you to skip mediation and go straight to trial.

If your damages are $25,000 or less, then you must file in district court where mediation is not required.

What Happens in Mediation?

Let’s say you are headed to mediation. Here’s what it might look like.

Mediation takes place outside the court, typically at an office. There is no judge. No facts will be decided. The point of mediation is to reach a settlement. The people who attend mediation are:

  • The plaintiff (that’s you – the person filing a claim for damages). You must attend mediation, because you have final settlement authority. In other words, you are the only one who can determine if the terms the other party is offering are acceptable, and thereby end the mediation.
  • Your attorney, who will negotiate on your behalf.
  • The attorney from the defendant’s insurance company.
  • The mediator, who is a neutral third party.

The defendant doesn’t necessarily need to attend. Your lawyer has the option of excusing him or her.

Mediation vs. Trial

Mediation may potentially benefit you by eliminating the costs of going to court. For example, you will likely not have to pay an expert witness (such as an accident reconstructionist) to testify on your behalf. Moreover, going to court involves additional costs that can chip away at the final dollar amount you may receive.

Headed to Mediation?

The best advice when headed to mediation is to arm yourself with an experienced legal team who has researched your case, talked with you about the value of your case, and knows what your case may really be worth.

Combined, our attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin have handled countless mediations. We can prepare you for mediation, attend mediation with you, counsel you on the reasonableness of the defendant’s offers and counteroffers, and advise whether to accept your settlement or proceed to trial.

If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, call us 24/7 at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

What Is the Difference Between My DMV Record and Points on My Insurance Policy?

confused man looks at insurance policy on a laptopMany people are confused about how the information on their driving record may differ from what is found on their insurance policy. The points you accrue on your North Carolina driving record may not be the same as the points your insurance company assigns to your policy to determine your rates.

As North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney Michael Jordan explains, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicle (NC DMV) assigns points to your driver’s license when you are found at fault in an accident or are found guilty of a traffic violation, such as speeding or running a red light. If you accumulate a certain number of points, you can have your license suspended or revoked.

Some common violations and their points include:

• Failure to stop for a stop sign or siren: 3 points
• Speeding more than 55 miles per hour: 3 points
• Reckless driving: 4 points
• Hit and run (property damage): 4 points
• Passing a stopped school bus loading or unloading children: 5 points
• Aggressive driving: 5 points

If you get 12 or more points within a 3-year period, your license may be suspended for up to 60 days.

The Department of Insurance determines the points that are used to calculate your insurance rates, and these points are completely separate from the points the NC DMV uses. The points your insurance company uses are based on accidents, liability claims against you, and any other incidents in which you were found at fault and your insurance company had to pay a claim.

Under this system, it is possible to have a ticket dismissed and to not receive any points on your driving record but to still have points counted against your insurance policy.

Of course, the best way to keep your insurance rates down is to practice safe driving and to maintain a clean driving record.

North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers

If you have been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to legal compensation for your injuries. Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case to find out if one of our North Carolina personal injury attorneys may be able to help you.

Top 5 Auto Insurance Myths

The rules governing your auto insurance policy can be complicated, and most consumers don’t take the time to thoroughly review their policies and ask questions to clarify their coverage. As a result, many drivers make certain assumptions about their insurance coverage. These assumptions are perpetuated as auto insurance myths.

Here are the top 5 auto insurance myths we hear when talking to clients:

I Have Comprehensive Coverage, so My Car is Covered for All Types of Damages

thief shattering the glass of a driver's side car windowDespite what its name suggests, comprehensive coverage only covers certain types of damages to your vehicle, including things like fire, hail storms, theft and vandalism. You must purchase additional insurance to cover other types of damages, such as collision coverage for damages caused in an accident or uninsured motorist coverage for damages caused in an accident with an uninsured driver.

Many drivers refer to “full coverage,” as well as comprehensive coverage, in claiming to be covered against all damages. However, there is no one type of insurance coverage that protects against all damages. It is very important to have a copy of your insurance declaration page when talking with a personal injury attorney about your coverage after you’ve been in an accident.

If Someone Else is Driving My Car and an Accident Happens, I’m Not Liable

Unfortunately, you could be responsible for any damages caused by your vehicle, even if you are not driving at the time. The car insurance you carry for your vehicle could be considered the primary insurance, which would be used to cover damages in the event of an accident. However, if the damages exceed your coverage limits, the insurance policy held by the person driving may then be used to cover the remaining costs.

I am Automatically Covered for a Rental Vehicle Under My Personal Insurance Policy

While your personal auto insurance policy may cover some damages when you are driving another vehicle, you should not count on it providing coverage for a rental vehicle. There is a lot of fine print regarding what is covered when you are behind the wheel of another vehicle and under what circumstances. It’s always best to purchase a policy that covers your rental car specifically when you pick it up.

Insurance Claims Will be Paid Fully and Promptly

If this were always the case, we wouldn’t be in business. Unfortunately, we have seen that insurance companies will try to dispute coverage and deny claims. That’s why it’s always a good idea to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer after you’ve been in an accident. A qualified personal injury lawyer can advise you of your legal rights and try to ensure that you get the benefits to which you are entitled under the law.

My Insurance Company is Loyal to Me

Again, this is something that we’ve seen is not always true, unfortunately. Even your own insurance company can wrongfully deny your claim for coverage. It is important to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you fight for your rights and try to get the compensation that you may deserve for your injuries.

Make sure that you aren’t counting on unfounded insurance myths if you are in an accident. Protect yourself by reviewing your insurance policy thoroughly and asking questions about anything that is unclear. Consult with a personal injury lawyer to learn about your rights under the law if you have been injured in an accident. The North Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you if you have been injured in an accident. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case.