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Preparing for Personal Injury Mediation

Seth Harris

Last modified on November 12, 2023

Preparing for Personal Injury Mediation

Many personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court in mediation. Mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution. In mediation, guided negotiations are supervised by a trained mediator. Many mediators are former attorneys or judges, professionals with background knowledge of and familiarity with New York laws regarding personal injury claims.

Mediation is less formal than proceedings in a New York civil court, which is where personal injury cases are litigated. You need to prepare to achieve your desired result in mediation and avoid going to trial. Although our guide to preparing for mediation isn’t a substitute for your personalized legal advice from a New York personal injury lawyer, it can give you an overview of what to expect.

What to Expect in the Mediation Process

The parties must select a mutually agreeable mediator. One side will propose a mediator, and the other will evaluate them, examine their credentials, and determine that they don’t have a bias. Once a mediator is chosen, the plaintiff and defendant can agree on a time and place for the mediation session to occur, or the mediator will set it up.

Some mediation may be done via video or phone call, while other sessions are in person. The mediator may have all parties in the same room for part of the mediation and separate the parties at times. The attorneys stay with their clients. The mediator goes back and forth between the parties, proposing what they’ve asked for and helping both parties find an acceptable compromise.

A mediation session usually starts with opening statements from each party. The mediator asks each side what they want to achieve. Your mediator’s role is to help each side focus on their goals. They cannot take sides or make rulings or decisions for you but may answer your questions.

Mediation Preparation Checklist

Look over your personal injury claim carefully. What is most important to you, and what are you okay with giving up? For example, if you’re permanently disabled due to the accident, it may be very important to you that your settlement covers future medical care and loss of earning potential. So, you may be willing to reduce the amount you requested in pain and suffering compensation to achieve these goals.

You may also have a “tiered game plan,” which could include the best possible outcome, a good outcome, an outcome you can live with (but isn’t as good as you’d like), and your walk-away point, the point at which negotiations are no longer useful and a trial may be the better option.

Your lawyer may have specific things they want you to bring, prepare, or think about before mediation. This could include up-to-date medical records, current statements for the cost of treatment, medication costs, mileage to and from doctor’s appointments, and medical device receipts.

Make sure that your demands are all in writing prior to mediation. This process is about compromise, not sudden surprises or asking for much more money than you initially did.

You and your lawyer can work together to determine the right checklist for your session.

Do’s: What To Say During Mediation

Your attorney will be with you and can advise you about what to say and when to stop talking. There are a few things to remember to do to get the best possible outcome:

  • Do use nice manners. Be polite, refrain from swearing, and address the mediator with respect.
  • Do speak up about your needs and advocate for yourself.
  • Do tell the truth. You may not have to tell your opponent everything (follow your lawyer’s advice), but you could jeopardize your claim if you start lying.
  • Remember that in mediation, you have more control than you think. If your case goes to trial, you do not control the outcome.

Listen to your lawyer. They may realize that your case isn’t a home run and could advise you that a mediated settlement, even if it’s not your ideal one, could be a lot better than you could get from a jury or judge.

Don’ts: What Not to Say During Mediation

Preparing for Personal Injury Mediation

You don’t have to lay all your cards on the table at mediation. Your attorney may keep some things in their pocket in case of a trial. However, mediation is less formal than a trial, and you can introduce evidence that may not be admissible in a trial but is still relevant to your case.

Some other things to avoid in mediation:

  • Don’t lose your cool. If you start feeling angry or upset, you can ask for a break to consult with your lawyer and collect yourself.
  • Don’t start playing the blame game. Mediation aims to find a financial compromise, not throw accusations around.

Finally, stay off your phone and stay off social media. It could be tempting to send updates to friends and family or even post on your socials. Remember that if you can’t settle in mediation, your case will move to trial, and whatever you post online or say could be used against you by the defense.

Additionally, many mediated settlement agreements include a confidentiality clause. If you’re talking about what’s going on in mediation, and the other party wants confidentiality, your posts or texts could give them a reason to abandon the process.

Do You Need Help Preparing for Mediation?

Have you been asked to go to mediation for your personal injury claim? If you haven’t secured legal services yet, there’s still time. A personal injury attorney from Harris Keenan & Goldfarb can represent you in mediation, even if you’ve already initiated a claim with the other party.

An attorney may be able to get a better outcome for you in mediation than you could alone. They’re your cool-headed guide during negotiations and can help you focus on the most important things you want to achieve during mediation. Don’t walk away with less than the maximum compensation for your claim. Contact us today for a free case review. Call 1-800-PAIN-LAW now.

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Over $500 Million in Verdicts and Settlements

Our track record showcases over $500 million won for our clients. Each victory underlines our commitment to justice and client care. Explore our impact, case by case.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Mr. Vargas $17.5 million for the City of New York’s violation of his civil rights for failing to provide him medical care while in custody. The jury found that the police officers involved failed to provide the necessary medical treatment and awarded $17.5 million to Mr. Vargas.



Harris Keenan & Goldfarb partners Seth Harris and Sheri Holland obtained a $4,730,398.00 jury verdict on behalf of our client who tripped and fell at a private apartment building in the Bronx, suffering a broken foot that developed a very painful, permanent neurological condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (“RSD”).



A Bronx jury awarded John Doe over $12 million for an accident on a construction site. John Doe was working when a piece of scaffold weighing 35 pounds fell, striking John Doe in the lower back. John Doe suffered a herniated disc requiring surgical removal of a portion of the disc and permanent nerve damage.



A Bronx jury awarded $10.5 million to the mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was wrongfully shot and killed by the New York City Police Department. The police officer, Louis Rivera, also a defendant in the case, was found to have used excessive force in violation of Malcolm Ferguson’s civil rights as protected under the United States Constitution.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff William Cardoza $4 million for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Mr. Cardoza was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly hit with a police nightstick. As a result, Mr. Cardoza sustained injuries to his hand and finger.



The firm’s client, a 33-year-old teacher’s assistant, was scalded by an espresso machine that exploded while the defendant’s employee was demonstrating how the machine worked. The client was a customer at the defendant’s coffee shop on the date of the accident and suffered first-degree burns to her right (dominant) hand.



The firm represented the mother- decedent and her infant son. During the decedent’s admission to the defendant hospital, the defendant dispensed anesthesia during an epidural to the decedent in an inadequate manner. The mother-decedent suffered personal injuries and wrongful death due to the defendant’s failure to properly administer epidural anesthesia.



Mr.Brennan fell from approximately 25 feet while working on a construction project. He suffered a shattered bone in his right leg requiring surgery and hardware placement. Mr. Brennan also suffered two fractures in his facial bones, and a dislocated finger requiring surgical repair.



The firm’s client was a child with cerebral palsy who was injured as a result of medical malpractice. The firm’s clients claimed improper management of pregnancy, labor, and delivery resulting in brain damage, and received a Brooklyn personal injury settlement.



The firm’s client, a 63-year-old mentally incompetent man, slipped and fell in his own urine while attempting to walk to the bathroom at the defendant’s senior citizen home. The client fractured his hip and as a result is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The client claimed that the staff of the home failed to properly care for him, and the jury awarded $1,677,835.



The firm’s client, a 47-year-old male, slipped and fell on a public sidewalk in the Bronx. It had snowed four to five days prior to the date of the accident, and the sidewalk was covered with ice. The client suffered a lumbar fracture and a herniated disc. The jury found the city liable and awarded the client a $2,995,000 personal injury settlement in the Bronx.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Luis Molina $2.61 million for injuries sustained when he fell down a subway station stairway. Mr. Molina was caused to slip and fall as a result of a plastic bag that had blown onto the steps from a street opening. As a result of the fall, Mr. Molina suffered a herniated disc and a tear of his right shoulder’s rotator cuff. The jury found that the NYC Transit Authority was liable for the accident.



A Bronx jury awarded Ms. Colon $2.25 million for a trip and fall accident. Ms. Colon was caused to fall when she moved to the right to allow another pedestrian to pass, and her foot rolled to the outside due to the sidewalk being unlevel with the adjoining grass. The jury found the defendant liable and awarded Ms. Colon $2,253,714.00 for her pain and suffering.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Arvella Floyd $1.9 million for a fractured wrist which required multiple surgeries, including an open-reduction internal fixation and a carpal tunnel release. Ms. Floyd was injured when the hot water knob of the shower fell off after numerous complaints to the superintendent, and scalding water spewed toward her, causing her to
fall and break her wrist.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Juanita Young $1,350,000 for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Ms. Young, who is legally blind, was handcuffed from behind, with her children watching, and taken to the top of the stairs to exit the building. The officer proceeded to push her down the stairs multiple times.

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I am completely satisfied, and recommend Harris Keenan & Goldfarb as Attorneys to represent anyone. Their care for me physically, and overall helped me stay strong in spite of my injuries. Always available to answer questions, and inform.They got me Justice, and achieved a substantial outcome for my case.I am very impressed, and thankful for their outstanding performance on my behalf.I am very pleased, and significantly satisfied with their representation.‐-Sherylon Wilkins
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Gene Matos (fanboye)Gene Matos (fanboye)
18:48 15 Jan 24
I first crossed paths with Seth Harris when serving jury duty many years ago. He was so professional and personable, that when my mom was seeking legal counsel for medical malpractice, I told her she had to reach out to his firm. We had meetings with a few different firms, but Harris Keenan & Goldfarb was the only firm that did not try to get us to sign paperwork before even meeting. They took the time to listen and understand our situation before we signed anything, and they were transparent and responsive the whole time. I would like to give special thanks to Samantha Walton, Marla Stein, Val Wallace and Seth Harris for helping my mom through this tough time. They were honest and upfront, and even though Seth Harris wasn't personally on the case, he took the time to meet with us and give us his thoughts on it.
Solange IsaacSolange Isaac
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I am pleased with the services provided by Ms Sheri on my case. The team at Harris, Keenan, & Goldfarb were very nice and explained everything to me. Everything that I had questions on they answered without frustration and were prompt and knowledgeable.6 years ago I had a slip and fall accident at my employers place of business. I reached out to them because I knew that I was being wrongfully treated. They took care of the case, restored my self confidence, and brought so much peace to my problem riddled life.I can recommend without a shadow of a doubt the services of Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb to anyone who is in need of someone who will have your back!
Brittany DempseyBrittany Dempsey
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My mother had an accident with her ankle back in 2019. I immediately contacted Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb on the day of the accident. They were extremely prompt and helpful. They attended to my mother's case beautifully and she's been recovering well. I'd like to thank you for being so diligent, kind and above all professional. I'd recommend this law firm to anyone who are injured and in need of legal assistance. My mother, Andrea, and I thank you for everything.
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