Before any personal injury case goes to trial, most of the courts in Florida will require the Parties to attend mediation. Mediation is a conference with you and your attorney and the defendant and their attorneys. Often times an adjuster from the insurance company will be present. A mediator will also be present who is skilled at helping resolve cases based on their experience with the law and familiarity with mediations and case values. If an agreement is reached, the case is effectively over and the settlement terms will be written out and the Parties will sign an agreement. If an agreement is not reached, the Parties are considered to have reached an “impasse” and the case continues towards a trial.
In order to avoid an “impasse” and reach better settlement agreements, there are a few things that can be done. At least 20-30 days prior to mediation, it is important to give the other side all the documents and evidence that show the strengths of your case. It can be effective to also send a letter to the mediator outlining the case facts and what the issues are expected to be. By getting information out ahead of time to the defense and to the mediator, you can save valuable mediation time because you don’t have to waste time explaining it all at mediation. Also, the more information you provide to the defense, the more their strategy for the mediation might change and you may get better offers as they review the strengths of your case.
In addition, is it critical to meet with your attorney prior to attending mediation to discuss what strategies you will use, what settlement options are available, and what to expect from certain mediators and defense attorneys. You may also wish to discuss with your attorney the concept of brackets, where each side will come up with ranges of acceptable settlement figures to see how far apart they are, or how close they are at settlement. You will also want to discuss how you should dress, what you should bring, and other mediation tactics that can be used to make the most out of your opportunity to resolve your case and get payment for your damages.