Posted on Monday, January 15th, 2024 at 9:00 am
According to the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Mediation can be a useful tool in a Chicago personal injury case. In mediation, a neutral third party facilitates discussions between you and the other parties involved in a dispute. If the insurance company isn’t offering a fair settlement, mediation could help you resolve your case out of court.
You should learn how to win at mediation if you’ve chosen to use this form of dispute resolution. Technically, the goal of mediation is to arrive at an outcome everyone agrees on. No one necessarily “wins” or “loses” in a successful mediation. That said, preparing for mediation can improve your odds of reaching a desirable agreement. At Wallace Miller, our Chicago personal injury lawyers can help you with your mediation process. Contact us or call us at (312) 261-6193 today.
The Basics of the Mediation Process in a Chicago Personal Injury Case
How does mediation work? Personal injury mediation usually involves:
- All parties meeting together
- All parties signing confidentiality agreements
- The mediator makes introductions and describing the mediation process
- Both sides make opening statements summarizing their arguments
- The mediator meeting with each party separately to help them reach mutually-satisfactory agreements
The role of the mediator isn’t to force anyone to agree to any terms. A mediator cannot pressure anyone to sign a mediation agreement at the end of a session. The mediator facilitates discussions and ideally helps parties resolve a dispute.
Mediation isn’t legally binding once you and the other party verbally agree to settlement terms. It only becomes legally binding when you sign a mediation agreement or other official contract outlining the settlement. Always remember there is no legal obligation for you to sign an agreement if you disagree with the terms.
How to Win at Mediation in a Chicago Personal Injury Case: Tips to Keep in Mind
Although you don’t have to sign a mediation agreement, arriving at fair settlement terms through mediation is an ideal outcome. Resolving a case through mediation costs less time and money than going to trial. It also ensures that the details of the mediation remain confidential. Additionally, mediation lets you exercise more control over your case than you would have if a court decided your personal injury case.
You may be more likely to reach a desirable mediation agreement if you follow this advice:
Prepare a Thorough Opening Statement
Your opening statement is your opportunity to explain why you think you deserve the compensation you’re seeking. Thus, one of your mediation strategies should be to hone your opening statement so that it is as thorough as possible. Without letting emotion dictate its content, ensure your statement clearly explains your argument. Cite evidence when appropriate to lend validity to your statement.
It cannot be stressed enough: You don’t have to enter into a mediation agreement if the terms are unfair. That said, the mediation process may not be successful if you’re completely inflexible.
Prepare for mediation by considering the various outcomes you would accept. Think about the settlement terms the other party may propose, and weigh their pros and cons now. Doing so ahead of time may help you more confidently evaluate their proposed terms during a mediation session.
Know Your Deal Breakers
Being flexible involves being willing to accept settlement terms that don’t perfectly match the settlement you had in mind. However, it’s also important to know what potential terms are deal breakers for you.
You don’t want to waste time entertaining any settlement terms that you ultimately won’t consider fair. Confidently identifying your deal breakers ahead of time may also help you navigate a mediation session with confidence.
Mediation could allow you to avoid the complexity and cost of going to trial. Regardless, you should still treat it with the same respect you would treat a court case.
You would prepare for court by dressing professionally and remembering to control your emotions. Prepare for a mediation session the same way. Doing so will indicate to all parties involved that you take mediation seriously. If they feel you’re genuine about using mediation to resolve a dispute, they may be more willing to work with you.
Sometimes, mediation is an efficient way to resolve a dispute. Sometimes, the process is relatively lengthy. If you’re patient, you may find mediation ultimately results in a fair settlement. Check out previous cases we have litigated for an idea of the processes and settlements.
Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer
Preparing for mediation is easier with assistance from an attorney. A Chicago personal injury lawyer from Wallace Miller can provide the representation you need throughout the process. The assistance of our legal team may play a critical role in the outcome of the mediation process.