Should You Consider Mediation for a Personal Injury Case in Florida?
To many, a lawsuit for personal injury follows a few familiar steps:
- Make a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company;
- Attempt to reach settlement to recover compensation for the victim’s losses; and then,
- File a lawsuit when negotiations break down and settlement becomes impossible.
However, there is one option in between these that not all parties consider; for some, they may not even be aware that there are alternatives to litigation. Florida law allows for mediation as means of resolving dispute in personal injury cases, and there are benefits to both sides of the case. Before you’re in a rush to head for court, consider some of the benefits of mediating your personal injury dispute.
Time and Money
Some of the advantages of mediation in a personal injury case apply to any other disputed matter: The process costs less than a full trial and takes a lot less time. In a personal injury matter based on negligence, the plaintiff must prove the necessary elements. Duty, breach and causation obviously require evidence.
However, the real challenge in some cases is proving non-economic damages to the plaintiff. Pain, suffering, and other losses that can’t be quantified by documentation require consulting and testifying medical experts. These professionals carry high hourly rates for their services. Because mediation proceedings are less official than trials, their participation isn’t always required.
Taking a personal injury case to court is also more time-consuming than mediation, which can usually be completed in a day. After filing a lawsuit, there are pre-trial motions, discovery, depositions, and other proceedings before a case even goes to trial. It could be years before a personal injury lawsuit is resolved in favor of one or the other party.
Other Reasons to Consider Mediation
There may be other factors involved in your decision regarding mediation, even after you weigh the benefits of time and money.
- The parties are a few thousand dollars apart in settlement negotiations, but that amount is minimal compared to the litigation costs;
- One of the hurdles to settlement is the seriousness of the victim’s injuries;
- The plaintiff and defendant disagree over the degree of fault attributable to each party; or,
- There aren’t any sticking points or possibilities for either party to make changes to their settlement position.
Keep in mind that mediation will become mandatory for both parties if one files a request with the court after a lawsuit has been initiated. Even if you don’t think mediation will serve your interests, you may still be required to go through the process under Florida law.
No matter whether you’re a plaintiff or defendant in a personal injury dispute, it’s smart to consider mediation as a resolution option due to the benefits on both sides of the matter. Once you make the decision to attempt mediation, invest some time in finding the right mediation professional. You should seek a mediator with the proper credentials, as well as experience in handling personal injury cases. The professionals at Feldman Mediation & Arbitration Services have mediated many of these types of disputes, and can help you settle your differences without the need for expensive, time-consuming litigation. Please contact our Tampa or Orlando offices to hear more about our ADR services.