Some cases are natural fits for mediation, such as contract disputes or family matters because the parties want to maintain a cordial relationship with each other after the dispute is resolved. To some, personal injury mediation may not seem to make sense. The parties are at odds and have very different interests. Additionally, a relationship that is sustained after the accident is likely not as important as other types of relationships. However, personal injury mediation has helped individuals with adverse interests peacefully and quickly resolve the legal matter in a way that has worked to the best interest of all parties involved. To get the most out of the experience, clients should know what to expect from the process.
While many mediation sessions begin with each party explaining their side of the case, the mediator’s job is not to pick sides. Instead, he or she stays neutral in order to help facilitate communication between the parties in an effort for them to ultimately compromise. In order for the parties to reach an agreement, they must both show some flexibility. Neither party is going to walk out of mediation with everything that they wanted. However, they may be able to reach an amicable solution that helps minimize their respective risks and maximize cooperation.
While the parties are likely to meet somewhere in the middle, clients should know that their positions may start off being very far apart. For example, the plaintiff in a personal injury case may throw out a ridiculous number. Similarly, the defense counsel may start with a number that is below the plaintiff’s medical costs. A successful mediation can help the parties settle on a final number.