Your potentially last opportunity to try and settle your personal injury case before going to trial. By this point, all discovery and depositions have been done and this last step is actually required by the courts to attempt to resolve the case before taking it the courthouse and having a judge or jury decide it.
Usually, this happens in front of a mediator who is a retired judge and where each lawyer gets to tout the strength of their case and why they believe a jury will side with them. This mediator is a neutral person who works with both sides in order to try and settle the case. A settlement is an amount of money agreed upon for dismissing your lawsuit.
A common confusion is that mediation is a trial. However, it is not, as many times the client’s don’t need to speak at all and the attorneys will do all the talking with the mediator and the other attorney(s). It is actually a really informal setting. It will likely begin with your attorney negotiating your case with the mediator and highlight how strong the case is while submitting a demand to the other side which will do likewise. This is pretty much the process for the whole mediation. All being done in the effort by the end to hopefully come to an agreement in order to avoid a full trial.
Another common misconception is that the mediator is on one side or is against you. The mediator as stated before is a neutral person who really doesn’t care whether the case settles or not. Their purpose is to act as an independent outside, objective voice, which many times is needed in order to try to resolve the dispute.
Now, there is no need to feel forced, as it is always up to the client to say yes or no. Additionally, everything that happens in mediation is confidential. So if the case does not settle and goes to trial, rest assured that what is said in the heat of negotiations cannot be used against you and vice versa.
With that in mind, most cases that do go to mediation end up settling and those that don’t that day still do end up settling after mediation before trial. So the worst that can come out of trying to resolve the case through the mediation now is a waste of a day or half a day. So it can be quite helpful.