If you're the defendant in a personal injury case, you may want to avoid going to court at cost. A defendant is the person who causes an accident, and the plaintiff is the person who receives injuries as a result of the accident. As a defendant, your attorney may try to settle your case through personal injury mediation. Personal injury mediation allows you to propose and pay the plaintiff a reduced insurance settlement for his or her injuries. However, your personal injury defense attorney must get the plaintiff's lawyer and insurance company to agree to the proposed settlement. Here's what you should know about personal injury mediation.
What Is Personal Injury Mediation?
Personal injury mediation is designed to handle cases that involve severe head and body injuries caused by some type of catastrophic accident, such as head-on collisions and rollovers. These types of cases often take some time to complete because the plaintiff or injured party's attorney must gather information about the case, including detailed:
- Medical records
- Eyewitness accounts and affidavits
- Law enforcement reports, such as the accident report and eyewitness statements, if applicable
Since the insurance companies of the defendant and plaintiff require this information to develop a fair settlement or compensation for the plaintiff's injuries, it could be potentially frustrating for you. The settlement amount may not be in your favor because it may increase your insurance premiums in the future. Since you caused the accident and needed to settle with the victim, you became a liability to the insurance company. In addition, you must pay the plaintiff's legal fees, as well as your own legal obligations once the case ends.
If the plaintiff's attorney and insurance adjuster agree to meet with your lawyer and insurance adjuster for the mediation, you may have a better chance of reducing the settlement amount. Your attorney and insurance adjuster try to negotiate a settlement price that seems fairer to you than the one initiated by the plaintiff's attorney.
How Do You Propose a Lower Settlement Price?
Your attorney and insurance adjuster may ask you to come up with a settlement price before the actual mediation meeting. If you can't decide or choose a settlement price, your attorney and adjuster may do so for you based on a few things that may help your case. For instance, they may propose a reduced settlement because:
- You don't have prior driving offenses and this is your first accident
- You couldn't avoid the accident without harming others on the road, such as bystanders, pedestrians and other drivers
- You want to avoid going to personal injury court or trial because it may take longer to compensate the injured party
The attorney will pass on the settlement price to the mediator, or person mediating the meeting. The mediator may separate both sides in order to alleviate tension or potential arguments. Unless the plaintiff accepts the settlement proposal right away, it may take up to four or more meetings to come to an agreement.
Can You Speak Up at the Mediation Meeting?
The meeting gives you an opportunity to tell both insurance companies about the accident, including how it happened and why. Sometimes, it's easier to speak face-to-face about a difficult situation than it is over the phone. You should also keep in mind that your insurance provider is responsible for compensating the majority of the plaintiff's injuries and medical expenses. Because the compensation or payout can be substantially large, your insurance company may feel more sympathetic to your defense case.
If the plaintiff denies your first settlement proposal, your attorney can still make a new offer. Although the offer may be a little higher than the initial settlement amount, it may be more acceptable to the plaintiff.
If you're the defendant in an auto accident and need legal representation or advice, consult with a personal injury attorney or click to find out more in your area. You may have a chance to settle your case out of court when you do.