Settling Personal Injury Cases
In my last post I discussed the need for thorough preparation before going to mediation. In particular, I noted the need to prepare the opposition, which may have surprised some readers. Why, you might ask, should I prepare the opposition as well as myself? Why can’t they prepare their own case?
Sounds fair alright, but if you are the plaintiff you need to give the insurance carrier every reason that you can think of to put the highest possible value on your claim. Don’t count on them to find those reasons for themselves; they might be too busy thinking of reasons to do just the opposite.
Some injured parties and their counsel will come to a mediation with a “hide the ball” attitude. Rather than lay out all of their evidence, they prefer to keep their best points hidden so that they can surprise the other side at trial. This strategy is almost always wrong.
First, the vast majority of cases are settled, so there will not be a trial. Even more importantly though, insurance carriers and their counsel will do their internal evaluation of your case before the mediation and make a determination of what they are willing to pay in order to settle. You want them to be looking at your strong points when they arrive at that number.
None of us like surprises, except on our birthdays or other festive occasions. If you conceal your good evidence and then decide to reveal it later in order to support a higher settlement demand, you will only irritate the other side.
The mediation is the most important event in your case. The day of the mediation is the day when it should be resolved. Prepare thoroughly, lay all your cards on the table, and give the defense everything that they will need. Do it well before the mediation so that they will have time to take all of the facts into account.
Michael Carbone is a full time neutral whose practice focuses primarily on construction claims and defects, real estate, business disputes and complex litigation. He has mediated and arbitrated for approximately ten years. He has served as a court-appointed referee in real estate and business matters.
He is a past president of The Mediation Society, a member of the State Bar Standing Committee on ADR, the ADR Committee of the State Bar Business Law Section, and the Board of Directors of the California Dispute Resolution Council.
He practiced law for more than thirty-five years. His practice emphasized commercial real estate and general business matters, including litigation of construction, real property, land use, and business cases.
Additional articles by Michael P. Carbone