The Mediation Process
In Florida, except in rare circumstances, all personal injury cases must be mediated at some point after a lawsuit is filed. Mediation is an opportunity to settle your case. The mediator is usually a local personal injury lawyer that has experience acting as a mediator. Although the mediator listens to everything that is said, he or she does not have the power to make a decision. Instead, the mediator’s job is to try and convince both parties to settle by encouraging both sides to compromise.
When the Mediation begins, all parties will start out in the same room with the mediator. After everyone introduces themselves, the personal injury attorney representing the plaintiff will give a brief overview presentation of the case. Because the other side is very familiar with the case, this presentation will be informal and will not follow the rules of evidence required in a courtroom. Next, the defense will give their presentation. The injured party will usually not agree with much of what the defense has to say. However, if the case does not settle, this is what a jury will hear. Therefore the injured party should listen and take what they have to say into consideration when trying to decide how best to resolve the case.
After both sides are done with their presentations, the parties will go into different rooms. The mediator will then go back and forth from room to room. He or she will try to encourage the plaintiff to take less than what they are asking for and encourage the defense to pay more than they want to pay. If everything goes well the case will settle. If settlement does not occur, then both sides will start the process of getting the case ready for trial.
Personal injury plaintiffs should dress appropriately for Mediation because the defense lawyers are trying to decide what type of impression you will make in front of a jury. The more professional the clothing the better the impression you will make. Try to cover any tattoos you may have. There is no need to buy special clothing. Men should wear a jacket and or tie if they have them. If not wear the nicest shirt with a collar you have. Wear long pants and not shorts. Women should wear a conservative knee length or longer dress or a pantsuit.