Q: I had a car wreck and my lawyer had to file a lawsuit. Now my lawyer said the judge has ordered us to mediation. Why do I have to go to mediation and is the decision of the mediator final?
A: Judges often ask that cases be mediated before a full blown trial is held. A mediator is someone trained to seek resolution of issues outside of a court setting. A mediator does not and can not decide the value of a case and impose that value on the parties. If the mediation is not successful then that’s all the mediator can tell the court.
Often when all of the parties to a case are brought together with the serious intent of resolving or settling the case, the process of mediation works.
We mediate cases weekly with our clients. Remember that all my firm does is personal injury cases so we are the ones seeking compensation for injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering and all of the types of damages that apply to a particular case.
What I tell my clients is to just relax. It’s no big deal for someone to begin offering money to you. It’s kind of nice to turn down money. We can not control how much money the other side brings to a mediation. If they bring enough to settle the case, then that is great and we will settle the case. If they don’t, we always learn something anyway. It’s just not a big deal. You can’t let a mediation be a big deal. You have to believe in your case and be prepared to go win in court if the other side is not willing to pay your client fairly.
In some cases, there are solutions other than just money. Sometimes these solutions can involve the timing of payments of money or to whom the money is paid. There was a pretty big road defect case in Birmingham where part of the solution, in addition to payment of money, was to rename the road after the girl who lost her life. Anyway, mediation works a lot of the time, listen to your lawyer, relax and try and enjoy a different experience. It is a lot easier than going to court.
Buckle up and drive safely.
McCutcheon & Hamner, P.C.
2210 Helton Drive
Florence, Alabama 35630