Posted on Friday, September 1st, 2023 at 9:00 am
If you’re seeking compensation in a personal injury case in Arkansas, you may know the settlement negotiation process is complex. Although a personal injury lawyer can handle negotiations for you, the insurance company or defendant might not be cooperative. You may feel you’ll have to go to court and hope you’ll receive compensation if the insurance company won’t budge. Such a scenario might cause frustration as you wait for your case to be resolved.
An Arkansas personal injury attorney may advise you to consider mediation in these circumstances. State law recognizes mediation as a valid way for parties to resolve these types of disputes. Your lawyer might recommend mediation before allowing a jury or judge to decide your case if negotiations have stalled.
At McCutchen Napurano - The Law Firm, our Arkansas personal injury lawyers can explain in greater detail how mediation works. If you hire us to handle your case, we’ll explain whether this is an option you should consider.
Why Consider Mediation After an Injury?
The potential benefits of mediation in a personal injury case are numerous. They include the following:
- Faster resolution: Personal injury mediation is an option you and your attorney may consider if you’re struggling during the settlement negotiation process. Working with a mediator can help you more productively discuss your case with the at-fault party and their lawyers to work toward an agreement. If you skip mediation and go to court, you may spend more time and money in the long run.
- Less stress: Settlement negotiations can naturally involve some tension or hostility. If you’re wondering what happens during mediation, be aware that the experience is often less stressful. Part of a mediator’s job is to help all parties involved discuss their cases civilly.
- Flexibility: You may arrive at more flexible solutions during mediation. The opposing party could be more inclined to work with you in a less confrontational setting and with the mediator’s facilitation.
Personal injury mediation isn’t always the best option. For example, you may have reason to believe the other party won’t act in good faith during mediation sessions. Or, fair mediation may not be possible due to a power imbalance.
The role of your personal injury lawyer partially involves helping you make important decisions about your case. A lawyer who understands how mediation works could help you decide if mediation is the best option now.
The Role of Your Personal Injury Lawyer in Mediation
Helping you weigh the pros and cons of mediation is just one way your lawyer can assist in the mediation process. Other ways they may offer assistance include:
- Preparation: Your lawyer can prepare you by explaining what happens during mediation and what may be expected of you. More importantly, they can prepare to state your case during mediation sessions clearly.
- Representation: The role of a personal injury lawyer during mediation is much the same as their role in other circumstances. Your lawyer’s job is to represent your interests.
- Evaluation and negotiation: The purpose of mediation is to arrive at a settlement agreement. A lawyer can evaluate settlement offers to determine whether they’re fair.
Mediation doesn’t always end with the parties entering into a settlement agreement. If the parties can’t come to terms in mediation, you can resume settlement negotiations or go to court to pursue the compensation you deserve.
What to Expect During the Mediation Process
A mediator is a neutral third party. Their role is to facilitate discussions between parties involved in disputes. The presence of a mediator can allow all parties to present their cases in a calm environment.
Personal injury mediation may involve such steps as the following:
- Mediation session begins: The mediator will introduce all the parties and explain the rules of the session. Everything that is said in mediation is confidential, and the parties must sign documents acknowledging this policy and agreeing that anything discussed remains confidential. The mediator may separate the parties at that point, or they might begin the mediation with everyone in the same room.
- Presenting cases: When mediation officially begins, both parties will present opening statements that explain the general details of their cases. Your lawyer may handle this on your behalf.
- Discussion sessions: The mediator must thoroughly understand the desires of all parties so they can make suggestions that can bring the parties together. Achieving this goal may involve several mediation sessions.
It’s vital to remember that a mediator should remain neutral. That said, you should feel free to give voice to your concerns at any stage of personal injury mediation. Open communication during mediation is key to making the process successful.
Key Takeaways for Injured Individuals
Knowing more about how mediation works can help you decide if it is right for you. Key points to remember as you consider this option include:
- Mediation is an alternative to court – Going to court will cost time and money. There’s also no guarantee you will win your case if you go to court. If the settlement negotiation process isn’t going anywhere, mediation may be preferable.
- The role of a personal injury lawyer – Entering into mediation doesn’t mean sacrificing the assistance of your personal injury attorney. They will be there to represent and guide you throughout the process. They can also offer strategic suggestions about how to present your case and handle discussions with the mediator for you.
- The goal is a resolution that satisfies all parties – Mediation may be most successful when all parties involved understand its purpose. During traditional settlement negotiations, it may seem both parties are fighting for an outcome that significantly favors them. With mediation, the goal is to arrive at an agreement everyone is happy with.
Mediation doesn’t always work. You don’t have to settle for an unfair settlement agreement if mediation isn’t successful. Your lawyer will advise you about whether any proposed agreement is far before you sign it.
Contact an Arkansas Personal Injury Lawyer
At McCutchen Napurano - The Law Firm, we can explain how mediation works, whether it’s right for you, and more. One of our values is ensuring our clients thoroughly understand their options throughout the process. Learn more about how we may help by contacting us online or calling us at (479) 783-0036 to schedule your case review.