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.