What Is Mediation and Why Do I Need to Participate in It in My Florida Personal Injury Case?

Any lawsuit, whether it is filed in state or federal court, typically carries with it the requirement that the parties mediate the case. Mediation is a process by which the parties and their attorneys meet with a neutral third party, often a retired judge, in order to attempt to resolve the case. If the parties are unable to agree on a mediator, then the judge presiding over the case will often select one for the parties. Everything said during mediation, including any settlement demands or offers made, is absolutely confidential and cannot be used during the pending case. This helps to ensure the parties are honest with one another and increases the chances of the case settling.

Why Bother with Requiring Mediation?

The purpose of mediation is to bring the parties and their lawyers together in an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement to a case. If a lawsuit has been filed and your attorney was not able to settle your case with the other side prior to filing suit, then you likely disagree, often strongly, over the value of the case, its merits or both. However, even if the parties strongly disagree about even the most basic issues in a case, mediation can have surprisingly positive results. It can and often does result in a settlement that both sides are happy (or can at least live) with. The civil justice system, particularly with the giant backlog that was created as a result of the court closures that occurred due to Covid-19, simply does not have the resources for every case to go to trial. If every case went to trial, then parties could end up waiting decades for their cases to resolve. Requiring mediation is a way to ensure that only those cases which cannot be resolved any other way end up proceeding to trial in front of a jury. 

How Does Mediation Work?

Each party will often give a presentation of its side of the case and/or highlight what it believes to be the weaknesses in the other party’s case at the beginning of mediation. The mediator may then offer some explanation to the parties about the process, confidentiality, and the importance of keeping an open mind throughout the entire mediation session. The mediator might even comment as to his or her view as to some of the key issues in the case. The mediator is not on either party’s side, but is there to push each party and their counsel to look at their case objectively and to consider some of the particular weaknesses or risks that might be involved in choosing to proceed with litigation through trial instead of settling the case at mediation. For example, it may mean that a plaintiff (the injured party) is not subjected to years of delays while waiting for a trial date or may avoid rolling the dice in a case that the defense very well could win at trial. For the defense and/or their insurer, it may be a way to control the costs as well as the risk of further litigation.      

Rules regarding Mediation

The most important rule of mediation is absolute confidentiality. All settlement demands or offers that are made by either party stay confidential and cannot be shared with the court, the jury, or anyone else. Even information that is shared in mediation may be confidential, such as if the defense concedes that its driver was at fault. The defense would not be bound by that concession in the case going forward if for some reason the case did not settle at mediation due to the mediation privilege. On the other hand, your attorney may share certain aspects of your case he or she would otherwise never share because that information was shared under a mediation privilege. This cone of silence is meant to ensure the parties can be absolutely transparent with one another in the hopes this will help resolve the case.

Contact Schwed, Adams & McGinley

At Schwed, Adams, & McGinley, our experienced personal injury attorneys have decades of legal experience representing Floridians who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and falls and all variety of personal injury scenarios. We approach mediation in every case seriously and we are often able to obtain full compensation for our clients in a successful mediation. However, if the party that is at fault for our client’s injuries and/or its insurer are not willing to be reasonable, then our experienced attorneys are happy to take a case to trial to ensure our client receives what he or she deserves for his or her injuries. Thus, if you have been injured by someone else’s negligence in the Sunshine State, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today at contact@schwedlaw.com or (877) 694-6079 today.