At Johnson Garcia LLP, we help you hold those at fault accountable when personal injuries happen. As experienced Houston personal injury attorneys, we are dedicated to helping you get the compensation you need to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages that result after an accident. Whether by negotiating a mediation settlement or taking your case to trial, our goal is to get you the maximum amount you deserve.
What is mediation in a personal injury lawsuit?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) used in civil claims. What is mediation in a personal injury lawsuit? It involves having you, your attorney, the insurance claims adjuster or at-fault party, and their legal representative meet with a mediator, which is an impartial third party. The goal is to resolve disputes over how your personal injuries happened, who was at-fault, and the amount of compensation you are entitled to in a settlement.
Mediation may be entered into willingly by both parties or it may be required by the judge in your case. What happens in mediation? The process generally entails:
- Introductions and signing of a confidentiality agreement: The mediator introduces the parties involved, explains how mediation works, and has both sides sign a confidentiality agreement. This prevents them from using information obtained through mediation in court if the case goes to trial.
- Opening statements from both sides: Our Houston personal injury attorneys will explain how your injuries happened, how the other party is at fault, and the amount needed to compensate you for your damages. The opposing side then has an opportunity to dispute these claims and the amount being sought.
- Individual meetings with the mediator: Each side will then go to seperate rooms and meet with the mediator one-on-one to privately discuss the case.
- Offers and counteroffers: After talking with each side individually, the mediator will go back-and-forth between the parties with offers and counteroffers in an attempt to reach a settlement.
Mediators can make recommendations to either side on the merit of the case, but it is up to the individuals parties involved to decide on the final outcome. A settlement may be negotiated within a few hours, saving you legal fees and time spent waiting for your case to go to trial.
Do most personal injury cases settle at mediation?
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), roughly 96 percent of all personal injury claims are settled pretrial through mediation. Common roadblocks that can get in the way of reaching a settlement through mediation include:
- Lack of preparation: Both sides should have clearly defined goals for mediation and all the information and evidence they need at hand.
- Lack of experience in negotiations: Having a Houston personal injury attorney experienced in mediation negotiations is key to getting the best outcome in your case.
- Unreasonable expectations: Knowing what to expect from a car accident settlement can help you better recognize reasonable offers in mediation.
- Bias on the part of the mediator: Bias on the part of the mediator or any conflict of interest can prevent a fair settlement and needs to be addressed immediately.
Even if none of these issues apply, there are situations where a reasonable settlement cannot be reached through mediation. In this case, the best course of action may be to take the case to trial.
What happens in a personal injury trial?
At a personal injury trial, both parties present their case in court. You, your personal injury attorney, the at-fault party involved, and their legal representative will appear before a judge and a jury will be selected. What happens at a personal injury trial?
- Opening statements: Each side gives their version of events and their desired outcome;
- Presentation of evidence and witness testimony: This often includes your own statements and testimony from medical or accident reconstruction experts, as well as any witnesses to the accident;
- Cross-examination: Each side has the opportunity to dispute the evidence or testimony presented;
- Closing arguments: Each side restates their case and what they are seeking in terms of a judgment;
- Jury deliberation and verdict: After receiving instructions from the judge, the jury privately considers all the evidence until they reach a verdict. This includes the amount of compensation that should be awarded to the victim.
Scheduling court appearances, arranging for witnesses to be present, making arguments before the judge, and waiting for a jury to deliberate and deliver a verdict in a personal injury trial can take a year or more.
Our Houston injury attorneys will fight for your full compensation in mediation or in court
At Johnson Garcia LLP, we have more than 30 years’ combined experience representing clients in personal injury claims. You can count on us to fight aggressively for your full compensation, whether it involves negotiating a settlement through mediation or taking your case to trial. Our Houston personal injury attorneys are available 24/7 so give us a call or contact us online to request a free consultation today.