Yesterday’s personal injury mediation blog post discussed personal injury mediation preparation. Now that we’ve set our best foot forward, here’s a summary of what will happen on the day of the actual mediation. Clear your calendar because mediations are slow and time-consuming events. If the mediation doesn’t end within an hour (i.e. it becomes obvious that one side doesn’t want to settle, or doesn’t have the authority to settle for a reasonable amount), my experience is you will be at the mediation center for at least 4-5 hours, if not the entire day.
Typically, you will meet your attorney at a mediation center, which will have a kitchen with coffee, soft drinks and snacks. You will first meet in a room where you can speak privately with your attorney. You’ll then go to a larger conference room where you will sit next to your attorney and opposite defense counsel and usually an insurance adjuster. The mediator will sit at the head of the table.
The mediator will introduce themselves, tell you about their experience handling personal injury cases, that they are not a judge (i.e. they cannot force you into anything), that nothing presented or discussed during the mediation will be admissible in a court of law, and that the main benefit of mediating a case is that of certainty. Anything can happen when a jury is involved. You take a substantial risk in failing to compromise at mediation because at or after trial (a) you may lose the case outright and (b) you may be required to pay defense counsel’s fees. But if you settle, you (c) know exactly the result and (d) you would get money sooner (within weeks of settling at mediation) as opposed to waiting months or years before getting to trial.