Mediation in a personal injury case is an important way to resolve the case. It’s a tool that requires the defendant to come to the table to talk about ways of resolving the case. It’s helpful to know what mediation is and what to expect during your session. There are things that you can do, as the plaintiff, to make the mediation session more productive. Our Tampa personal injury attorneys explain.
What Is Mediation in a Personal Injury Case?
Mediation in a personal injury case is a formal case resolution session between the parties. A trained and neutral third-party guides the parties through the process of talking about the case and discussing possible non-trial resolutions.
While the parties don’t have to agree to a resolution during mediation, mediation is a proven, productive session to attempt to reach an agreement and end the case. Mediation in an injury case is a case-resolution process designed to facilitate an agreed-upon order resolving the case.
How Does Mediation Work in Florida?
Mediation works in Florida by designating a time and place to meet for the mediation session. The parties are present along with their attorneys and a trained mediator. The mediator explains the rules. The plaintiff, or their attorney, begins by stating their case and what they want to see for a final order.
The defendant responds, and the mediator facilitates settlement discussions between the parties. If they agree to a settlement, the parties draft and sign an order. If not, the mediator reports that the parties participated, and the case heads towards trial.
How Long Does Personal Injury Mediation Take?
Personal injury mediation takes about one day. Usually, by the time the parties arrive for mediation, they’ve already spent a great deal of time building the case, and they’re aware of the significant issues.
However, it still takes time to understand the rules of mediation, hear the presentations of each side of the case, and discuss the issues. Typically, mediation takes about a day. If the issues are unusual compared to a typical injury case, mediation may take more or less time.
What Happens at a Mediation?
At a mediation, the mediator begins by discussing the rules. Common rules are to avoid talking over each other and to keep the information discussed in mediation confidential. Each client may speak privately with their attorney, and the mediator may be involved in a caucus with a party and their attorney during the mediation session.
The plaintiff typically begins by talking about their case and the amount they’re seeking in compensation. The defendant replies with their side of the case, whether they’re willing to pay the settlement and any counteroffers. The parties continue to discuss the issues and work towards a resolution of the case. Both parties have the opportunity to discuss things with their attorney as they work through the mediation, so you have the opportunity for guidance about whether you should accept a settlement offer.
When the parties reach a settlement, they draft settlement papers. An order drafted at mediation is binding and enforceable by the court. A settlement fully resolves some or all of the issues. Usually, in a personal injury case, the parties resolve all or none of the issues at mediation. If the parties don’t agree on a resolution, the case proceeds onward to trial as though the mediation never happened.
Florida Mediation Court Rules
Florida Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1.720 lists the rules for mediation in the State of Florida. After the court orders the parties to participate in mediation, the parties have 10 days to agree on who the mediator will be. There are qualifications to be a certified mediator in the State of Florida. If the parties are unable to agree, the court assigns a mediator. Under Florida Rule 10.340, the mediator must be neutral and may not mediate a case where they have a conflict of interest.
Do You Have to Be Present for Mediation?
Yes, you have to be present for mediation. Both of the parties and their attorneys have to be present for the mediation. If there’s an insurance company involved, the company must send a representative who has the authority to settle the case up to the maximum demand of the plaintiff or the policy limits. In other words, everyone must be present at the mediation that is necessary to fully discuss and resolve the case.
What Happens If One Party Skips Mediation?
If one party skips mediation, what happens is that they have to pay for the costs associated with the mediation. In other words, they have to pay for the other side’s attorney and the costs of the mediator. In the State of Florida, awarding sanctions for failing to attend the proceeding is mandatory on the part of the court. There are heavy sanctions for skipping mediation or failing to send a party who is fully authorized to settle the case.
Personal Injury Mediation Strategy
A personal injury mediation strategy is an important part of making the mediation session useful. How you play your cards during mediation can impact the outcome of the case. There are several components to developing a good strategy. First, you need to know what you’re asking for. Before your session, you should spend some time thinking about the things that are most important to you as part of the case resolution. Your attorney can help you understand ancillary but important issues like tax consequences of a settlement and how structuring the settlement may impact how you receive it.
There is also strategy in what information to present at mediation. In theory, everything you say at mediation is confidential. However, you don’t want to openly present your trial strategy to the other side. Your attorney can help you understand how to approach the mediation to protect your interests both during the mediation and beyond.
What to Wear to Lawsuit Mediation
What to wear to lawsuit mediation is professional clothing. You should dress for mediation like you would dress for court. A suit is best if you have one, but any kind of business attire like a dress shirt or sweater is acceptable. Your attorney can help you understand what to wear at lawsuit mediation.
Contact Our Tampa Injury Lawyers for Help With Mediation Today
Make the most of your personal injury mediation. We can help you build a strong strategy that can bolster your case during mediation. We know how important mediation can be in getting a favorable resolution to your injury case. Call our attorneys today for your free consultation. There is no fee unless you win.
 Mediation in Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved 24 February 2020, from https://www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Alternative-Dispute-Resolution/Mediation-in-Florida
 Florida Rules of Civil Procedure; Rule 1.720. (n.d.). Retrieved 24 February 2020, from http://phonl.com/fl_law/rules/frcp/frcp1720.htm