Personal Injury Mediation in Illinois – FAQs
If you or somebody you care about sustains an injury caused by the careless or wrongful actions of another individual, business, or entity, you likely have the right to recover compensation from the at-fault party. However, personal injury lawsuits can be complicated. In some cases, both sides will participate in a process called mediation in an attempt to reach an agreement before the case goes all the way to trial. Here, we want to discuss the mediation process.
What is mediation in a personal injury case?
Mediation is a process when both the plaintiff and the defendant come together with a neutral third-party in an attempt to resolve a claim before a jury trial. Sometimes, mediation is voluntary between the two parties, but it is not uncommon for mediation to be ordered by a judge before allowing the case to go to trial. The vast majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court, and mediation is one way to reach a settlement deemed fair by both parties.
What happens during the mediation?
The mediation process can seem intimidating, particularly for anybody who has not been through it before. Here, we will discuss the basic steps in most personal injury mediation processes.
The mediator introduces the parties
When the mediation begins, the neutral third-party mediator will introduce everybody in the mediation to one other. Every person should know the role of everybody else in the room.
Confidentiality agreements are signed
After introductions have been made, the mediator will make sure that every party signs a confidentiality agreement. This means that anything discussed during the mediation process must be kept confidential. Nothing agreed to or admitted to inside the mediation can be used if the case ends up going to trial.
Opening statements by both parties
Both the plaintiff and the defendant (typically their attorneys) will give an opening statement. The plaintiff will lay out their reasoning for why they are asking for a certain valuation of their case. The defendant will also make it opening statement that will likely dispute the facts of the case and give their reasonings for either offering a lower settlement or denying the claim.
Both parties separate
Both the plaintiff and the defendant will separate to different rooms and will remain separate for the remainder of the mediation process.
The mediator will go back and forth between the two parties
The neutral third-party mediator will go back and forth between the two parties. The role of the mediator is to keep a dialogue going between the plaintiff and the defendant and move towards reaching a settlement. A good mediator will remind both parties what risks they face by taking the case to trial. For example, a mediator may tell the plaintiff that there is no guaranteed outcome that the jury will respond with a verdict in their favor. Likewise, the mediator will tell the defendant the same thing and that they will be better able to control the outcome if they agree to a settlement before trial.
If a settlement is ultimately agreed upon by the parties involved, they will sign a statement formalizing the terms of the agreement. Attorneys for both sides will prepare the necessary paperwork to be filed with the court so that the plaintiff can be paid. This will be the end of the case.
However, if a settlement is not reached during the mediation process, the case will return back to the court and could still go to trial. There is still a chance that a settlement agreement can be reached after the mediation is over, but that may not be the case.
Still have questions? Contact one of our experienced Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys today.