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Q-What do I need to bring to a Settlement Mediation?

The plaintiff or claimant (injured person) needs to bring nothing to the mediation. The person's lawyer should meet with the client a week or so before the mediation to talk about the process and most importantly about the strategy of the negotiations that will occur.

Clients need to be aware that the starting number is the highest number they will see. The insurance company and their lawyer certainly have another number in mind that is substantially lower than our opening number.

Settlement mediation is about compromise. We come to the table with an amount based on specific facts of the case. Sometimes we must estimate the existence of permanent impairment or how long the person will remain out of work or whether the person will be eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits. Frankly, some of these “facts” are to some degree, a bit of a guess. The question is: is it a reasonable assumption or truly a guess.

This is why the number the insurance company puts on the table will be different from our numbers. They always look at the “facts” differently from how we do.

Mediation allows all parties to state their views of the facts, what is positive and what is negative about one's case. Sometimes we forget to see things as the insurance company sees things.

I have a mixed feeling about my client making opening remarks at the beginning of the mediation. If my client generally has something to say, then I want to hear it a week before the mediation so we can “rehearse” the content of the remarks. This is another reason for a pre-mediation meeting far in advance of the actual date.

Lastly, if there is any disagreement between you and me, your lawyer, as to the value of your case, a meeting well in advance of the day of mediation is a good time to have a frank discussion of the value of your case. Communication is the key. Then we are on the same page, united in our view as we head to the Mediation.

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