Personal injury is described by Merriam-Webster as “injury to one’s body, mind or emotions; an injury that is not to one’s property.”
We all know someone (and that someone could be our own self) that has been involved in an event that has caused personal injury. These events could be, but are not limited to, slip and falls, automobile collisions, wrongful death, dog bites, and workplace injuries.
In this post, we’ll discuss mediation and settlement considerations in personal injury cases.
When considering settlement in a personal injury case, you need to make sure the insurance company considers all the ways your personal injury has affected your life. Things to consider are:
- the cost of your medical bills;
- the permanency of your injuries;
- any limitations or restrictions you have due to your injuries;
- any lost wages from time off work you incurred; and
- how it has affected your life overall.
Most insurance companies will only look at the actual money that you have lost. Your job (or the job of your personal injury attorney) is to make sure the insurance company looks at all the ways this incident has affected your life. One of the most effective ways to have your voice heard is by participating in a mediation to discuss all of the issues that you’re facing.
Telling Your Side of the Story
During a mediation you will get to tell your side of the story. You get to tell the insurance company directly how your life was affected – not just by dealing with any physical injuries, but also the injuries to your mental and emotional health. For example, if you have young children, how did it feel to have difficulty holding or caring for them because of your injuries? Maybe you were engaged at the time and had to walk down the aisle on crutches. Times like these are the precious moments that you will never get back. You deserve to be compensated for these losses, as well as any monetary losses.
Mediations happen in two ways.
One option involves two separate rooms, one for you and another for the insurance company’s representative. The mediator will talk to each of you privately and go back and forth until an agreement is made.
Another way involves the mediator talking to each of you separately to determine what your goals are for the mediation. The mediator then brings everyone together into one room to talk.
Either way, you will get to tell your story – in your own words.
Mediation of a personal injury case can be quite cost effective. It is essential to first have a conversation with your personal injury attorney about what he or she feels your particular claim is worth. Then compare this information to the possibility of pursuing mediation. Mediation may only cost a few hundred dollars whereas a trial can cost several thousands. Typically a treating doctor’s deposition and preparation for a case costs between $4,000.00 and $5,000.00. Also, during mediation you can negotiate your way to the dollar amount that your claim is worth; whereas, in a court trial the outcome is determined by a judge or jury.
Also, keep in mind that a trial may also require you to:
- pay for expert witnesses, like the doctors who treated you;
- find personal witnesses, such as friends, co-workers, or family members who would be willing to testify as to how the incident affected your life;
- take more time off from work because a trial could take several days; and
- win a jury award large enough to cover all of your expert witness costs, attorney fees, and expenses, and all of your outstanding medical bills and liens.
Keep in mind that the judge and jury will decide how much you get. You will not have a say in how much they decide your claim is worth. Many times, jury awards are so minimal that you risk walking away with little to nothing after costs are covered.
Thinking About Mediation
If you want more control over the outcome of your personal injury claim, you should look to mediation. With the guidance of a good personal injury attorney, you can have a voice, settlement options, and control over the outcome of your personal injury claim.