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Mediation of a Minnesota Car Accident Lawsuit

Dave Langevin - Friday, September 06, 2013

What is a Minnesota Car Accident Mediation?

Mediation is an opportunity to resolve a lawsuit without having to go to court.  Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) involving a mediator who is an independent third party. In most cases mediation is the last opportunity to settle a car accident lawsuit prior to court.

Why Mediation of my Car Accident Case?

In most cases, the judge will order the parties to go through ADR.  Mediation is the preferred form of ADR.  Other forms of ADR include arbitration, binding arbitration or some sort of hybrid between arbitration and mediation.  However, these forms of ADR are rarely used to resolve Minnesota car accident cases, motorcycle accident cases, or semi truck accident cases.

In my experience, mediation is faster and cheaper than any other form of ADR.  Most importantly, mediation is MUCH cheaper than trial. Mediation might cost a few hundred dollars, whereas trial could easily cost thousands of dollars.

Mediation also provides certainty.  Unlike trial, when the jury decides how much money an injured person should receive, mediation allows me and my clients the power to accept or decline a specific amount of money to settle the case.

When Does Mediation Take Place?

Mediation usually occurs toward the end of the lawsuit.  In most instances, written discovery has been completed (interrogatories, requests for admission, and document demands); your deposition will have been taken by the defense attorney; I have taken the defendant's deposition; and you will have already been examined by a defense attorney doctor as part of an AME (adverse medical examination)(also known as an IME).  In a small number of cases there may have been motion hearings and/or depositions of eye witnesses, your family members and/or your friends.  Mediation occurs at this stage of the lawsuit because it is easier to determine the value of your case.

Who Is the Mediator?

The mediator is a neutral party chosen by me and the defense attorney.  Usually the mediator is an attorney who has represented both plaintiffs and defendants.  The mediator will ask me and the defense attorney to provide information prior to the mediation so she/he has an idea what the lawsuit is all about. All information provided to the mediator is confidential.

What Happens at Mediation?

The mediation will usually take place at the mediator's office.

The mediator, or the mediator's assistant, will place me and my client in a private room.  The defendant, defense attorney, and insurance company representative will be in another private room.

Once the parties are settled in their rooms, the mediator will introduce himself/herself and explain how the process works.  There may be some forms to sign indicating the mediator explained his/her role  The mediator might ask you some questions about how the accident occurred, your injuries, your treatment, and your expectations about settlement.  The initial meeting with the mediator usually lasts 10-30 minutes depending on the complexity of the case and the extent of injuries.

The mediator will then leave me and my client and repeat the process in the other room with the defense.

The negotiating begins once the initial meeting concludes and I inform the mediator what I believe the case worth.  The mediator then takes this number to the other room for a response offer.  This process will continue until the case settles or when it becomes apparent the defense will not offer enough money to settle the case.  Along the way, the mediator will explain his/her view of the case to each side and will explain what he/she sees as strengths and weaknesses of the case.

Mediation is non-binding, and either party can leave at any time.

However, if the parties agree to settlement, there will be some forms to fill out and sign.

Mediation Tips and Interesting Facts

Know exactly where you need to be the day of the mediation and be there ten minutes early.  Treat the mediation like a court hearing.

Dress casual but professional.

There is a lot of down time.  Bring a book, magazine or laptop, etc.

Everything that happens at mediation is confidential.  The jury will never learn about anything that happened at mediation.

The mediator is not allowed to testify at trial.

The mediator is paid hourly or with a flat fee.  The cost for the mediator is usually split between the parties.

Mediation can last ten minutes or ten hours.  Plan accordingly.

Do not get upset by small initial offers because there is a great chance the defense is upset by “large” demands.  Mediation can be a slow process at the beginning and usually speeds up after a few rounds of negotiating.

Call 612-ASK-DAVE (612-275-3283) to speak with a Minnesota car accident lawyer.  The consultation is free and confidential.