If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by the carelessness of another, you should be compensated for your damages. In Houston, before any car accident case goes to trial, both parties are typically required to attend mediation.
Mediation is a procedure by which the parties in a lawsuit meet to find common ground for an acceptable way to settle the case. Mediation for a car accident case is held at a neutral location where a neutral third-party, the mediator, can supervise and help both parties come to an agreeable resolution. In your car accident case, the defendant is usually the insurance company representative and their attorneys who meet you and your attorney to reach an agreeable settlement.
Many car accident victims in Houston mistake mediation as a similar process to going to court, but this process is much more informal. The following article offers helpful information and advice to better prepare for arbitration as part of a car accident case.
What Happens at Mediation for a Car Accident Case?
After you file your lawsuit and the discovery of evidence has been made, both parties will agree on a time to discuss settling the suit out of court. Once mediation begins, the mediator goes to the defendant with your defense and settlement amount and receives their counteroffer. The mediator takes this counteroffer back to your lawyer to either accept or respond.
The mediator, often a retired judge or trial attorney, is impartial to the outcome of the case but tries to help both sides see reason and raise or lower demands so a settlement can be reached. If both parties genuinely want to reach an agreement, the offer to settle gets closer and closer in number as the mediator works out the parties’ differences.
Mediation can last anywhere between a couple of hours to a full day. If an agreement still can’t be reached after hours of negotiating, the mediator might offer a final proposal that can be accepted or refused; if refused, the case goes to trial.
Many times, the plaintiff and defendant’s initial estimates of your car accident case’s value are far apart. While each car accident case is different with unique details that alter the settlement amount, there are a few variables that are always considered in valuing your case, including:
- The severity of your injuries
- Medical costs to treat your injuries
- Past & future lost wages
- Whether you had any fault in causing the car accident
- Each party’s level of insurance coverage
- The amount of supportive documentation & evidence
- Your lawyer’s capacity to argue your case
Having substantial evidence to support your case and an experienced lawyer is essential for winning an agreeable settlement after your car accident.
The majority of car accident cases in Texas settle at mediation or before the case goes to court. The following highlights the pros and cons of mediation for car accident cases:
- More control over the process – As the plaintiff, you and your lawyer make the decisions of how much your case is worth and if the amount offered by the defendant is acceptable. In court, the judge or jury makes those decisions.
- Mediation is informal – Going to mediation at an office is much more relaxed than going to a courtroom trial. In mediation, you relax while your lawyer handles the talking and negotiating.
- Insight on your case – During mediation, you learn how the insurance company or defense evaluates your case so, should a trial be the next step, you and your attorney can strengthen the weakest points of your case.
- Your case may not settle – Some car accident cases in Houston are incredibly complicated, and both sides may not agree on a settlement. Mediation might be a waste of time in these instances.
- Mediator’s cost – Nothing is free, nor is the mediator’s services. This fee is usually a small price to pay compared to the benefits that can result from mediation.
It’s essential to have a knowledgeable and experienced car accident lawyer on your side to help with your case in Houston. Often, the defendant’s willingness to settle depends on both the supporting evidence and how confident your lawyer is on taking your case to trial.
At Sutliff & Stout, our car accident lawyers are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law. We are here to help you through each step of your car accident case, and we’re not afraid to take your case to trial. If you or a family member have been hurt in a car accident, call Sutliff & Stout to speak with our seasoned car accident lawyers in Houston to get the personal attention that you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, complete an online contact form or call (713) 987-7111.