I was backed into by a police officer on my bike
Mediation is a settlement conference. You and your attorney attend along with the defendants (police officer, city) and their attorneys. There is a mediator who is not on either person's side. The mediator works towards settling the case. First the mediator talks, then your attorney tells his side, then the defendants tell their side. Then if your attorney wants to say something about what the other side said, he/she can, and it goes back and forth.
Often the mediator separates both sides and walks between the rooms they are in, taking offers back and forth. Many, if not most, cases settle at mediation. Everything you say at mediation is privileged, so it can't be held against you. Don't worry about it, go with it. It's a good thing.
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Personal Injury Lawyer
I think Ms. Lindquist did an excellent job explaining the mediation process.
Mediation was created to get both sides to actually sit down and talk to each other in an attempt to try to resolve the dispute. If you are unhappy with the offers or the other side is unwilling to compromise, you are allowed to leave whenever you want. Mediation is good because you still retain control of your case. Once the case goes to trial, the control is then in the hands of the jury. This is something you will want to consider prior to refusing any settlement offer.
I would recommend that you dress business casual and look presentable. Many times, if an insurance company is involved, an insurance representative will be there. You will want to make a good impression. One the most important aspects of a plaintiff's case is whether or not the plaintiff will make a good witness.
If you are represented by an attorney, it is unlikely that you will have to speak with the opposing side. Like Ms. Lindquist stated, you do not need to be nervous. Mediation is a good thing.
Mediation is an informal settlement conference ,generally ordered by the court to occur in most civil cases in Florida. I say "informal " because all statements , offers etc are strictly confidential and may not be revealed by the parties, their representatives or the mediator.
The mediator is generally an experienced lawyer in the area of law. Often it's a retired judge.
The mediator does NOT decide the case. He or she will review the presentations of the parties and try and help bring the case to a resolution and end the litigation. The mediator brings his or her experience in similar cases to bear as well as powers of persuasion.
Every case is different and there will be pros and cons on both sides of whether to settle and at what amount vs. continuing the litigation. You should listen carefully to your attorney's advice and get all your questions answered before making any decisions.
Personal Injury Lawyer
Mediation is a settlement conference that is facilitated by a Mediator. A Mediator is a neutral participant whose role is to work with both parties and their attorneys to try to generate an amicable settlement. The Mediator does not have any decision making authority and anything that occurs at mediation is generally privileged and not admissible in the case. I hope this gives you some insight into the mediation process.
Charles S. Spinner, Jr., Esq.
SPINNER LAW FIRM, P.A.
I assume that you are talking about a mediation of a personal injury claim for yourself, arising out of the bicycle accident. I do not suggest that you attend a mediation session without the assistance of counsel.
Your attorney can explain to you in detail what to expect. Your attorney should probably have some knowledge of the mediator and depending on who the mediator is, there can be differences in style and sometimes substance.
You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
I believe the others have done a good job explaining mediation. I'll add however, that sometimes mediation is more of an exploratory process rather than a true settlement conference. It's not supposed to be that way, and usually isn't, but sometimes it is and that can't be helped. When I say exploratory, I'm referring to one party (typically in a negligence case, the defendant's counsel and/or the insurance carrier) using the process to see how you'll present to a jury, and how skilled and prepared your lawyer will be. There is no requirement in Florida that the parties negotiate in "good faith". The only requirement is that the parties show up and sit through the mediator's opening statement. It's for that reason that I agree with Mr. Russo's suggestion that you dress appropriately and make a good appearance. I would also suggest that you impress upon your lawyer your expectation that he/she be well prepared for the mediation. As a lawyer, I prepare for mediation as if I were preparing for trial...and as a mediator, I see better results when the lawyers are well prepared. The mediation process is effective, but there is nothing magical about it. It only works when the parties do their part to make it successful.