Many New York personal injury cases are settled in mediation. It is a guided negotiation process that aims to help the parties reach a settlement agreement outside of court. Mediation may be court-ordered. Or the parties may agree to try it before trialing the case.
You may be able to get a better deal in mediation than you otherwise would. Also, you remain in control of the process. Our clients often ask us how to win at mediation in a personal injury case. Winning looks different for everyone. Let’s look at how the New York personal injury lawyers from Harris Keenan & Goldfarb can help you achieve your best outcome.
What Happens in Mediation?
Mediation is overseen by a neutral mediator trained to help both parties reach a compromise. They usually have a law background and familiarity with New York personal injury laws. The mediator is often a retired judge or former lawyer. Each side may make an opening statement, laying out their case and evidence to support their claim.
Once each side makes their opening statement, then negotiations begin. You may have already submitted your settlement demand to the other party in a letter drafted by your New York personal injury lawyer. Negotiations are usually about the dollar amount the plaintiff seeks. However, your claim could include other concessions you wish the defendant to make.
What Does Winning a Personal Injury Mediation Look Like?
Unlike a trial, mediation doesn’t necessarily have a winner and a loser. Winning, in your case, could mean receiving the settlement amount you asked for or something close to it. Or it could mean that the defendant admitted their wrongdoing and apologized to you for the harm they caused you.
Your lawyer may help prepare you for mediation and manage your expectations by helping you prioritize your demands. This means you may have a best-possible scenario, a good outcome scenario, and then your “bottom dollar” or a compromise you can live with. You may also wish to establish your walk-away point before going into mediation, the point where you feel more comfortable taking the case to trial.
You may even consider mediation a win if you reach a settlement agreement, even if the settlement doesn’t include everything you want. Trials can be long, painful, and intimidating. They can also be costly and last anywhere from a few days to weeks or months if the case is extremely complex.
How to Win a Personal Injury Mediation Hearing
Preparation is the best way to feel like you walked away with a win at mediation. This starts with establishing your priorities and knowing when it’s time to walk away.
Mediation isn’t the place to put forth new evidence unless something suddenly becomes available or your medical condition suddenly worsens. However, you should come prepared with documents and other evidence that supports your case, like your total medical bills showing the cost for that part of your compensation and other documents that prove the other side was negligent.
Keeping your cool can help you get the best possible compromise. If you’re respectful and cooperative, the other party may be more likely to be so.
You may also have a better chance for a “win” if you allow your lawyer to negotiate for you. Many personal injury lawyers, like ours, have been trained in negotiations. They’re less emotionally attached to the case and so may get a better deal than you could by yourself.
Don’t be afraid to be creative. In mediation, you have the opportunity to think outside of the box to reach a compromise. If there are certain sticking points, you and the other party can talk through them and see if there is any middle ground you can agree on.
What Happens if Mediation Fails?
Usually, if mediation, court-ordered or voluntary, fails, the case moves to trial. Personal injury claims are litigated in civil court, not criminal court. But there will still be a judge and probably a jury. Each side will present its arguments and evidence supporting it. Your attorney will have the opportunity to question the defendant’s witnesses and verify the truth of their evidence. Then, each side makes a closing argument, and the jury deliberates.
The jury may find in your favor and give you full compensation according to your demands, or they may find in favor of the defense, and you may walk away with nothing. Or, the jury may agree that the defendant was liable for your injuries but award you a different amount of compensation than you requested. The matter is final once the judge approves the jury’s decision.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer to Win at Mediation?
You aren’t required to have a lawyer for mediation. However, many people feel most comfortable with a trained attorney by their side. It can be nerve-wracking going into negotiations. There’s a good chance that a lawyer will represent the defendant, so having your own can help level the playing field. If the defendant is a corporation or healthcare facility, there’s a chance they have an entire legal team defending their interests.
Your attorney can advise you whether an offer is good or whether they think the defendant is lowballing you. They may also be able to advise you about different options to achieve a settlement, suggestions you may not have thought of on your own.
Contact Our Law Firm Today for a Free Case Review
Have you been harmed and suffered a loss due to the negligence of another person or entity? You could demand compensation from the other party to cover your medical care, lost wages from work, and pain and suffering from your injuries. We can help you.
A personal injury lawyer from Harris Keenan & Goldfarb can help gather evidence to support your claim, file a lawsuit for you, and handle the legal matters relating to it. They can also communicate with the defendant on your behalf, negotiate a settlement, and help you through mediation and trial. Contact us today at 1-800-PAIN-LAW for a free consultation.