Lawyers will frequently use the services of a third party mediator to help settle car accident lawsuits.
Often this is a very helpful procedure because a mediated settlement can be much less expensive than a trial. However, some mediators are better than others, and sometimes the mediator can cause problems that were not there before and that make settlement more difficult.
Mediator volunteers opinion to both parties
One of the worst techniques is for the mediator to volunteer his value of the case in front of all parties.
If this is done and if the value is significantly less than the you expect or that your personal injury lawyer would recommend for the case, then your lawyer must overcome the mediator’s low recommendation as well as the insurance carrier and defense counsel.
Your lawyer might show shock, and state clearly that you would never even consider such a figure. Another alternative is to simply bypass the mediator. After the session is over your lawyer could let the opposing lawyer know that the mediator was acting without any authority, that the mediator’s figure in unacceptable, and that future negotiations will have to take place in a different venue.
Mediator degrades each side’s position
Another unfortunate technique that some mediators use is to degrade each side’s position.
The mediator points out all the flaws in your case, that liability is questionable or poor, and that there are several things that simply make this a poor case. Furthermore, the mediator provides a lecture on how difficult and tight injuries have been recently in car accident lawsuits and says that offers have been made and lost recently because of poor jury results.
Mediator discloses confidential information
Sometimes a mediator will repeat to the opponent what your personal injury lawyer disclosed in confidence. For example, your lawyer may have entered with a $200,000 demand, but admitted to the mediator that your bottom line figure is $100,000.
There are times with a trusted mediator when it is helpful to be candid and to let the mediator know your bottom line. Some mediators work better and more successfully if they know what you are actually seeking.
However, if you have a mediator who repeats confidential information to the other lawyer, then the negotiations are undermined. In this settlement situation, attempts may break down completely and it may be necessary to go to trial rather than to continue to attempt to settle the lawsuit.