If you are injured by someone else’s negligence – a negligent driver, a careless property owner, or a malpracticing physician, for example – in the Evansville area or anywhere else in the state of Indiana, contact an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney as quickly as possible. When a negligent person injures someone in this state, the injury victim has the right under Indiana law to full compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, and all of his or her other injury-related losses and expenses.
Filing a personal injury claim does not necessarily lead to a formal trial in a courtroom. More than ninety percent of personal injury claims are resolved with an agreement reached through alternative, out-of-court dispute resolution procedures. Personal injury attorneys regularly negotiate these kinds of settlements, but when a personal injury claim cannot be resolved informally, the courtroom isn’t necessarily the next step.
In recent years, there has been a trend away from costly, lengthy courtroom trials as people learn about and take advantage of alternative methods for resolving legal disputes. These dispute resolution options include informal out-of-court negotiations, arbitration, and mediation. When a personal injury case goes to mediation, a neutral mediator helps the two sides reach their own agreement. Attorneys and even insurance companies now routinely resort to mediation.
HOW DOES MEDIATION WORK IN PERSONAL INJURY CASES?
In personal injury mediation, the disputing parties meet with a neutral mediator who is trained to help people resolve their conflicts. Mediation is entirely voluntary; it only takes place if both sides agree. Mediation is also non-binding, so a resolution is final only if both sides agree to it. The mediator encourages compromise and cooperation but makes no rulings or decisions and offers no advice or opinions.
The primary advantage of the mediation process is the freedom and informality it offers to both sides. Each party can present its case without the procedural limitations that are imposed by a courtroom and without the fear that making one simple mistake means “losing.” If mediation fails, nothing that either party has said can be used by the other party in any later stage of the dispute.
In most personal injury cases, the cost of mediation is typically divided between the two sides of the dispute. Personal injury mediations usually begin with each party speaking to the mediator in the other party’s presence. Then each may address the other directly in the mediator’s presence. Finally, each party speaks alone and privately with the mediator. Without revealing what has been confidentially disclosed, the mediator then works to persuade each side to compromise just enough so that an agreement can be reached. There are no restrictions on what may be said in mediation, and disputants require no special training to prepare for or understand mediation.
WHERE DO YOU FIND MEDIATORS? WHERE DOES MEDIATION HAPPEN?
Basic “dispute resolution” services are provided almost everywhere by neighborhood or community centers, municipal governments, and even faith communities. These dispute resolution services are operated primarily by volunteers with some training in mediation, but they are rarely professional mediators with a legal background. They may charge a slight fee, and they primarily deal with disputes between neighbors and roommates, tenants and landlords, or contractors and homeowners. However, volunteer community mediators do not handle personal injury claims or disputes.
Professional mediators are usually attorneys or retired judges – people who have professional legal and mediation experience. Professional mediation services can be rather costly – several hundred dollars for a half-day session is not unusual. Professional mediation services deal with personal injury claims as well as a variety of other kinds of disputes involving businesses and properties. Independent professional mediators – usually practicing or retired lawyers or retired judges – typically have extensive legal and mediation backgrounds, and they may charge from $100 to $300 an hour or more, depending on the amount in dispute in a particular case.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF MEDIATION?
If you have been injured by negligence, and you’ve arrived at a stalemate with the insurance company regarding your claim, mediation might be the way to move forward. A claim going to mediation will get an insurance adjuster’s special attention, and sitting in the same room with you may motivate the adjuster to find a way to settle with you. Another advantage for injury victims is that the third party – the mediator – is there to encourage both sides to compromise and move forward. Mediation is a much faster, easier, and less expensive process than the alternative of going to a personal injury trial.
For some personal injury victims, however, there may also be disadvantages to the mediation of a personal injury claim. In simple cases, mediation may only take several hours, but even those several hours can be quite expensive with a professional mediator. And it’s often difficult to persuade an insurance adjuster to agree to mediation. It means additional work – including appearing personally – for the adjuster. Given its advantages and disadvantages, mediation is probably most appropriate for personal injury victims when:
• You and the insurance company are stuck in settlement negotiations and more than $2,000 apart.
• The main disagreements are over which party was at fault and over the extent of your injuries.
• You seem to have no other option except for going to trial.
If any of these circumstances apply, it’s probably worthwhile to learn more about mediation, the mediation process, and the availability of professional mediators near you. If it’s possible, it is always better to resolve personal injury disputes outside of the courtroom. An out-of-court settlement will save you time and money while reducing anxiety and aggravation. If you have been injured by negligence in Indiana, discuss your case at once with an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney.
If mediation is the best strategy for you, your attorney will suggest it, help you find a good mediator, and provide you with guidance and advice throughout the process. Without an attorney’s direction and insights, you might end up settling for an amount that is far less than your injury claim is worth. If mediation is not the best strategy in your case – or if it fails – your attorney can represent you in court and aggressively advocate for the compensation and justice that every victim of negligence needs and deserves.