Q: My lawyer told me that the court had ordered us to mediation in my case. I like my lawyer, but she didn’t tell me much about it. What can I do to prepare?
Nicholas, Killen, AL
A: Mediation is being used by the court system with a high degree of success. Courts order mediation in all different sorts of cases, including workers compensation, accident cases, and divorce cases.
We do a lot of mediations and in fact designed our office to some degree to provide rooms for use during mediations. I really like mediation and find it to be very helpful for my clients.
Mediation requires some trust in the lawyer and the process. If you know that your lawyer knows the value of your case and the issues involved in your case, then you can be confident that your interests will be protected. The mediator does not and can not make a decision about the case. The mediator can not and will not talk to the judge about the people or whether they were reasonable or not. The mediator will merely report the case was settled or not settled.
What you can do is understand what issues are important to you. In workers compensation cases, often the employer will want to pay money to the injured employee to have no future liability for the care and treatment of their injuries. Most people want to have some assurance that their medical bills resulting from an on the job injury will be paid. There are many ways to resolve this issue. In fact different states resolve future medical issues differently by law.
Understand that if you have not mediated before, it is simply new to you. Most people never engage in the bargaining process of making a high offer, receiving a low offer and trying to find a range where neither party is completely satisfied. Most people don’t like to horse trade and go back and forth with offers and counteroffers. The ability to walk away from an unsatisfactory deal is a very important tool in negotiation (if you’re pretty sure you can get a better deal).
My advice to you is to go into this with an open mind. Don’t get upset with low offers. Allow the process to take place and eventually the mediation will come to a conclusion, settled or not settled. Good luck.
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