If you are involved in a serious car accident in Texas and suffered severe injuries or major property damage, there is a pretty good chance that you could end up in a mediation session when trying to recover financially. But what exactly is mediation, and what can you expect to happen while you’re there? Here’s what mediation is all about, including how it works, what to expect, and how an attorney can help you during the entire process.
Car Accident Mediation Process
Mediation is an extrajudicial or alternative dispute resolution process, which means that it occurs outside of the court system. It is designed to give people a chance to work out a settlement agreement before things reach the judge and jury, but after initial settlement negotiations have broken down. Mediation is usually voluntary, though in some cases it may be ordered by the judge before a case can proceed to the courtroom, as a successful mediation reduces the burden on an already overworked judicial system.
During the mediation, you and your attorney will meet before the mediator, who is a neutral and unbiased third party. The mediator is not an employee of the court and does not make rulings like a judge. Many mediators have legal experience in their past, often as attorneys or claims adjusters, but it is not a requirement for the position. He or she is simply there to facilitate an exchange between parties so that they can come to a mutually acceptable settlement.
The opposing party and his or her legal counsel will also be in attendance, and there may be a representative from his or her insurance company, as well. The mediator will lay out the basic rules of the session to both sides, and he or she should make it clear that nothing that is said in mediation can be used against you in court. Depending on the mediator or the specifics of your case, you may or may not be allowed to speak directly to the opposing party, with the mediator assisting in negotiations. Other mediators prefer that both sides only speak privately with the mediator and he or she will act as a go-between for the entire process.
Once the rules of the session have been explained and the mediation begins, it usually follows a standard format. You can generally expect the following steps:
- An opening statement. Since you made the initial claim, you and your attorney get to have first say. This is where you explain the situation, what you think should happen, and how it is that you would like to see the case resolved. After you make your arguments, the defending side will have a chance to make their own statement and make their desired outcome known.
- The negotiations process. Usually, the statements make it clear that both parties have a difference in the desired outcome of mediation. Negotiations begin at this point, and the mediator usually starts a process called “caucusing.” You and the defense will be separated into different rooms, and the mediator will privately speak to each side, going back and forth from room to room with the demands and offers being made.
- The end of the mediation session. When you and the defense come to an agreement that you both find agreeable, the mediation is over. Don’t expect this to happen immediately; mediations are often long, all-day affairs. Be sure to talk to your attorney before you accept an offer to settle to make sure that you are getting a fair settlement.
Keep in mind that the process of mediation and negotiation means that compromises may be necessary. You may not get everything you want in mediation, and it’s up to you and your legal counsel to decide if you can live with that. If not, talk to your attorney about your next step in the legal process—it may be necessary to continue forward and take the matter to court.
Get Legal Help Today
While you are not legally required to have an attorney present with you at your mediation, having an accident attorney on your side from the start can make sure that your legal rights are protected from day one.
When you need legal help after an accident, the attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP have the experience you need. We will stand by your side through the entire legal process, from mediation to court, and we will fight to get you the settlement that you deserve when you have been hurt due to negligence, recklessness, or carelessness.
To talk about your experience with an experienced legal professional, call us by phone today, send us an email using our online contact form, or click the live chat box on this page now and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.