In my locale, about 97 % - 98 % of all civil suits settled short of trial last year (actually 2007 was the year of the data I read) before a trial date was set. Of the remaining 2 % - 3%, a bit over half of those settled on the courthouse steps on the first day of trial.
Those are stats in my locale\. A sharp litigation and trial attorney in your locale may know your stats.
Good luck to you.
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Practicing in New York, I can tell you it usually takes a lot less time to get a case into mediation than it does to get to trial. Moreover, mediation is often a better, more efficient way of obtaining a positive resolution to your case. It is not binding on you or the other side; however, nine times out of ten (or even more frequently), it results in a settlement.
Of course, mediation cannot take place right away, but usually, after the plaintiff is finished or near the end of her treatment, and after the defendant's attorney has had an opportunity to review her medical records with the insurance adjustor, the case can be ripe for mediation. How soon that can be depends on several factors including the severity of the injuries, the availability of insurance coverage and the extent to which the defendant's liability can be established. Mediation is NOT necessarily one of the last steps before trial is considered. It is sometimes one of the first steps to avoid protracted litigation. It all depends on the facts of the case.
If you have a particular case in mind, please do not hesitate to e-mail me, and I would be glad to discuss it with you further.
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