Mediation can be an important part of receiving appropriate compensation for the damages and loss you may have endured from a car accident. When you hire a car accident lawyer, they will work toward reaching a settlement between you and those responsible for the accident. But sometimes arriving at a settlement agreement needs a little help.
If you were injured in a Louisiana car accident, Morris Bart’s attorneys can help. We have a proven record of receiving proper compensation for our clients, but occasionally a mediator is needed.
How does Mediation Differ from Settlement Negotiations?
Settlement negotiations customarily take place between the attorneys for each party in a personal injury case. They may include an insurance company representative for the defendant. Negotiations can take a long time with proposals and counterproposals, with each side trying to earn the best outcome for their clients.
Your attorney, as the prosecutor, will strive to get you the highest compensation possible following your car accident. The defendant’s attorney will try to settle for as little as possible, especially with the defendant’s insurance company working beside them.
It is important to remember that insurance companies are in the business to make money, not lose it. Their adjusters are hired to work toward paying you the lowest amount possible as compensation for your injuries and damages.
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Determining When to Look for Help Through Mediation
If your attorney and the defense cannot arrive at an amicable agreement through negotiations, it is time to consider mediation. Mediation is a desirable alternative to directly filing a lawsuit. Mediation offers both sides the opportunity to explain their perspective to a neutral party.
Is a Mediator’s Decision Final?
No. The mediator, who is often a retired judge, or a practicing or retired lawyer experienced in car accident law, does not make a binding decision in your case.
After listening to both sides of the case, they provide their advice and deliver proposals from one side to the other. You can agree with or decline the mediator’s recommendations.
Who Hires the Mediator?
Either party can suggest mediation. Both sides are responsible for choosing and paying for a mediator.
Beyond their legal experience, mediators go through various amounts of advanced education to further engage in the interests of both parties. Their training involves listening to and evaluating each party’s point of view to get them to agree to a settlement.
Your attorney needs to understand the other party also wants to settle out of court before agreeing to hire a mediator. Otherwise, it is a waste of time and money. Mediation can benefit both sides by preventing further expenses and the stress of a court battle.
Louisiana’s Statute of Limitations
Speaking of time, your experienced local car accident lawyer knows that time is of the essence in Louisiana. You should be aware of that, too. Louisiana has one of the shortest statutes of limitations in the country.
Following a car accident, you have only one year from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible. If you miss the date, you will likely forfeit any possible claim for damages. After your accident, be sure to hire your car accident attorney as soon as you can. Your compensation is dependent on it.
How a Car Accident Mediation Process Works
Your attorney will be representing you through mediation, so the only thing you need to bring is yourself. You should dress professionally. You may be allowed to bring a support person but ask ahead of time.
Your lawyer will have prepared a brief containing arguments on your behalf and your settlement demands. Similarly, the defendant’s lawyer will do the same. Each will be given to the mediator and the other party for review at the beginning of the mediation process.
The Mediation Location Will Be Neutral
Mediation takes place in a neutral location, often the mediator’s office, for the comfort of both parties. While some mediators may elect for everyone to initially meet in one conference room to discuss the general rules, you may not come face to face with the defendant’s team at all during the mediation process.
For privacy, you and your lawyer will be provided a separate room, the defense another. This allows each side to discuss matters amongst themselves freely. Some mediators prefer online mediation, especially if all parties are not located in the same area.
What you share in mediation is confidential and cannot be used in court. The mediator cannot discuss what you say with the other party unless you and your attorney agree to it.
How Long does Mediation Take?
Typically, mediation for a car accident case can take one or two days, although some cases may take weeks. There is no time limit on mediation. Keep in mind, however, Louisiana’s statute of limitations is in play if you are considering a court trial.
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Mediation Can – and does – Work
If both parties genuinely want to come to an agreement without going to trial and have not come to a settlement yet, agreeing through mediation is the last hope. The fact that most car accident cases are settled out of court is a testament to the mediation process.
What Happens Following Mediation?
If a settlement is reached, the mediator will write up a summary of the agreement. It will be given to your attorney for you to sign along with the lawyer of the defendant for them to sign. Once signed the settlement check will be issued to your attorney for disbursement.
Contact a Local Car Accident Attorney for Help
If you haven’t already, now is the time to locate an experienced Louisiana car accident attorney. There are many qualified car accident lawyers on the Morris Bart legal team who are ready to help you. A Morris Bart lawyer will meet with you for a free initial consultation of your case.
At that time, we will discuss your legal options along with the settlement and mediation processes. Remember, you only have one year from the time of your accident to file a lawsuit, if necessary. Let Morris Bart get to work on your case, contact us today!
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