Mediation is where both sides will agree on an independent third party mediator and go to his or her office. Both sides, the injured plaintiff and the defendant will then talk about the pluses and minuses of their cases and then separate into two different rooms. The mediator will try to get each side to negotiate their case by going from room to room encouraging each side to make offers to settle the case. This goes on until both sides can agree on a number at which to settle the case or they cannot agree which is called an impasse. Most non-catastrophic injury cases generally take 4-5 hours to negotiate. On a catastrophic injury case such as brain damage, major broken bones or death cases can take up to 1-2 days. Mediators charge a fee that is usually around $400 per hour and both sides will split the cost of the mediation.
There is an absolute privilege regarding conversations in a mediation. Clients should understand that anything they say during mediation is protected and cannot be used against them in a court of law. Be aware however that just because there is a privilege and what you say can’t be used in a court room does not mean that the other side cannot take that information and use it against you in other ways. Thus it is very important that anything you say to your attorney is said without the mediator being present in the room.
While you are in the process of negotiating the case through mediation, your attorney should be asking for your approval every time you make an offer to the other side. It is very important that your attorney have this permission as it is your case and you have the final decision on all aspects of the settlement process. Once both sides agree in the mediation, they will be asked to sign a form that will make the agreement legally binding on all parties. Mediations can be very complicated. Many attorneys will provide anatomical drawings or videos that can be very elaborate depending on the case.