Rich Smukler was a practicing personal injury litigator for over thirty years and is uniquely qualified and trained as both a litigator and mediator to handle the various personal injury matters that come before him. These can include Medical and Legal Malpractice (also known as medical and legal negligence), automobile accidents, wrongful death, products liability, slip and trip and falls, premises liability, libel, slander, and more.
When you go to your mediation,
1. Expect to hear statements from the opposing party that you may disagree with. At the beginning of most mediations, the parties and their lawyers will usually gather in a conference room together for opening statements. You and your attorney will be on one side of the table. The defendant, the defendant’s attorney, and usually a representative from the defendant’s insurance company will sit on the other side. Your attorney will present your side of the case. The defense attorney will then make statements that will challenge your view of the facts and the value of your case. This is his or her job. Do not be offended.
2. Expect the parties to be far apart at the beginning. At the early stages of the negotiations, you can expect the parties to be far apart. You can count on “low ball” offers from the defense, or offers that are too low to consider. The defense can expect your starting point to be too high, as well. Remember to be patient. As with any negotiations, it’s not where you start, it’s where you end!
3. Expect the process to be lengthy. A successful mediation can take anywhere from a few hours or a full day. In our experience, the average mediation time is between 4-6 hours. The process takes time because the mediator will be meeting privately with the parties in separate rooms in order to gather information about the case. Expect the mediator not to pick a side. The mediator is not your attorney or your advocate. The mediator’s only “client” is the “settlement.” In order for a mediator to facilitate a settlement, he must be neutral and fair to all parties. The mediator cannot “pick” one side over the other.
4. Expect to compromise. Mediation cannot work without compromise. If you want to reach a settlement, then you must be willing to make concessions that are reasonable and fair. Mediation is a “give and take” process that allows you to maximize your rewards and minimize your risks through a negotiated settlement. Without compromise, you can expect your case to end in court.