Although mediation often helps our Tri-Cities clients resolve tough personal injury cases, it can actually lead to several possible outcomes ranging from a full settlement to an increased determination to litigate and go to trial. These outcomes largely depend on the willingness of the plaintiff and defendant (aka “insurance company”) to compromise and the strength of each party’s case.
Here are the most common outcomes:
- Full Settlement Agreement: The most favorable outcome is a full settlement. Both parties agree on all terms, including compensation amounts and any other conditions. The agreement is usually put in writing and signed by both parties, making it legally binding. Some mediators have a better track record than others in achieving a full settlement.
- Partial Settlement: In some cases, the parties may agree on certain aspects of the claim but not others. For example, they might agree on the amount of compensation for medical bills but not for pain and suffering. A partial settlement can resolve some issues and narrow the scope of the dispute, potentially making a full settlement or subsequent legal proceedings more straightforward. This is pretty rare.
- Impasse or No Settlement: Sometimes, parties are unable to reach an agreement during mediation. This may occur if neither side is willing to compromise sufficiently or if the parties fundamentally disagree on key issues. In this case, the dispute remains unresolved, and the parties may choose to take the matter to court or seek alternative dispute resolution methods. Lately, this has become more common.
- Agreement to Continue Negotiations: The parties might agree to continue negotiations at a later date, either through additional mediation sessions or through direct negotiation. This often happens when progress is made but more time is needed to fully resolve the dispute. In other words, the end is near.
- Agreed Action Plan: Even if a full settlement isn’t reached, the parties might agree on a plan of action, such as gathering more information, consulting with experts, or exploring other dispute resolution options. This can be helpful in complex cases where additional input is needed before a settlement can be reached.
- Referral to Arbitration or Litigation: If mediation fails and the parties still wish to resolve the dispute without going to court, they might agree to arbitration. Alternatively, if no agreement is reached, either party can decide to take the matter to court for a judicial resolution.
- Confidential Agreement: The specifics of the settlement or discussions in mediation are usually confidential. This means that even if a settlement is reached, the details of the agreement may not be publicly disclosed.
The effectiveness of mediation depends on the skill of the mediator, the nature of the case, and the attitudes of the parties involved. It’s often a preferred method due to its potential for cost savings, time efficiency, and its less adversarial nature compared to court proceedings. If you have reached an impasse in your case, you might consider hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you in mediation, arbitration, or litigation.