Mediation

As mentioned above, some cases can be settled through mediation. This usually occurs when the insurance company and the injured party can not reach a settlement of the case. In preparation for mediation, we send our clients something similar to the following letter:

This letter is intended to help you understand why mediation has been scheduled and help you understand what is going to happen. It will also help you in your preparation. You will need to attend the mediation in person with me. Plan on it taking several hours. If you have any questions at all during the process, we will have the time to stop and talk before moving forward.

Judges order mediation because they know it works. It unclogs their docket if mediation is successful and the case is settled short of trial. Mediation will do several things 1) reach an acceptable settlement, 2) preview and clarify some of the likely issues that will arise at trial, and 3) determine with some clarity how disparately the parties view the case. It is a negotiation process and is not the same as binding arbitration. We do not have to accept any proposals. However, I will make recommendations along the way.

Mediation can result in a higher net settlement for you, after accounting for payments to subrogated parties, expert witness fees, and the time needed for ongoing discovery and trial appearances. Your time is valuable and the demands of ongoing discovery and trial can have a significant impact on your lifestyle. Furthermore, as opposed to going to trial where the losing party can appeal, there is virtually no risk of an appeal in mediation. Mediation gives you much more control in the outcome of the case then does litigation.

Here are the people that will be involved in mediation.

Our mediator is attorney [Mr. (Ms.) ]. He spends most of his practice as a defense attorney, and so he has credibility with the insurance company. He will not take sides in this case. His job is just to help get the case settled and give his feedback to the parties if asked. He tends to focus on the damages in a case, and so we can expect to spend some time talking about your medical bills. He typically starts the mediation by introducing all the parties and talking about the process. Then he takes the other side into a separate conference room and returns to talk to us in more detail. He will ask you some questions about the accident and how you are doing now. Since everything you say is confidential, you should be open and honest. He will focus on the weaknesses of your case and the strengths of theirs. When he meets with the other sides, he will focus on their weaknesses and our strengths. Please be prepared for that.

You met attorney [ ] when she took your deposition. She will be with us at the start of the mediation, but then she will be in a different room. She will probably have her case file with her and will be in contact with the insurance company, by phone. Sometimes a representative from the insurance company will attend the mediation. Either way it is probably[ ] the claims adjuster, who will be the person making the final decision on how much they will pay to settle the case.

On rare occasions, the individual defendants will attend mediation. This usually is just so the mediator has a chance to evaluate what kind of impression each defendant will make on a jury, or when there are subtle questions about how the accident happened. We are unlikely to have any interaction with any defendant.

The best way for you to get ready for the mediation is to think of a handful of stories that you can share with the mediator about ways your injuries have changed your life, or have affected your lifestyle. This not only allows you to tell your story, but also provides the mediator with valuable information to share with the defense in an effort to distinguish this particular case from any other. Whether it is a vacation plan that had to be cancelled, or not being able to play with a grandchild, thinking of specific instances of hardships caused by accident injuries provides a useful way to participate in the mediation. I will review these with you in our meeting, which is one hour before mediation.

There will be times when we will just be waiting while the mediator is negotiating with the other side. It is okay for you to bring things to pass the time. You can bring a computer, a Blackberry, a crossword puzzle, a cell phone, knitting, snacks, or a book or magazine to read.

As mentioned above, we will meet shortly before mediation, sometimes on the same day, and I will explain to you how the settlement calculates to a net disbursement to you. We will account for different figures for subrogation claims, if settled at mediation as opposed to after trial. Many subrogated liens are subject to the doctrine that says you must first be made whole for your personal injuries before the subrogated lien holder gets paid. Since we do not have a jury finding of your personal injuries, we can usually negotiate a reduced lien amount. If the case is taken to verdict, however, the entire subrogated lien must be paid. Often I will have that figure for you at the time mediation begins. We will also discuss how mediation may save costs including expert witness fees, certified medical records, depositions, exhibits, and other expenses associated with prosecuting the case.

Your confirmed mediation is at[ ] office at 9:00 a.m. on [ ]. If you have any questions in regards to the mediation, please call the office.

The insurance companies offers, either at mediation or prior to that in letters to the attorney, may follow in-house insurance guidelines with some leeway granted to adjusters to adjust the claim in order to prevent the claim from being fully litigated in court. There is a wide range of levels of compensation which may fluctuate with the economy and dictates of the insurance industry setting the varying levels of compensation to claimants. Some insurers have experimented with using computers and codes for injuries, which tabulate the data that is presented and grant the adjuster a level of money authority for which to settle the claim. Our office maintains a list of those codes that are used by the insurance companies to evaluate your case. We refer to those codes when we are negotiating the claim.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident and if you are looking for an experienced personal injury lawyer to maximize the remedies that you have available to you and to reach the highest possible award for your injuries or if you wish to compromise, negotiate, or effectively deal with either your insurance company or the adverse insurance company we, the Michael Ablan Law Firm can help you. We have been serving injured clients since 1974. With an experienced and aggressive yet honest, trustworthy and friendly legal team consisting of a lawyer with 35 years of experience, specialized paralegals, and a tax accountant, the Michael Ablan Law Firm in La Crosse, WI can help you. We also have offices in La Crescent, Minnesota and Hayward, Wisconsin. Contact us for a free consultation. Our expert legal services are available to you anywhere in the State of Wisconsin including but not limited to the counties of La Crosse, Trempealeau, Monroe, Pierce, Crawford, Vernon, Grant, Sawyer, Jackson or any other county in Wisconsin or in the state of Minnesota, including all counties surrounding La Crescent, MN, such as Houston and Winona and any other county.