Close Menu
Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Lawyer > Blog > Personal Injury > What Are the Benefits of Mediation in Florida Personal Injury Claims?

What Are the Benefits of Mediation in Florida Personal Injury Claims?

Benefits of Mediation

Being hurt in an accident that was not your fault is horrific, and the consequences of your injuries will resonate in many areas of your life. Beyond the physical pain, you will also suffer financial and emotional losses, some of which will affect you many years into the future. Fortunately, with most accidents, you have legal remedies available under Florida law. You can file a personal injury claim to recover monetary damages for your losses, providing helpful financial support when someone else’s negligent acts turned your life around.

While you might expect that the first step in enforcing your rights is going to a trial, there are actually multiple stages in the legal process before seeing the courtroom. At some point along the way, the parties might participate in mediation. The proceeding is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) under Florida court rules, with the goal of encouraging agreement among the parties. The benefits are a reduction in the court’s busy docket and increased efficiency in the judiciary.

However, it is important to realize the benefits of mediation in Florida’s personal injury claims when you are the victim who was hurt in an accident. Your Florida personal injury attorney will advocate for you during the session to ensure you maximize the advantages. To better understand what to expect, some basics about mediation may be useful.

Mediation in the Personal Injury Claim Process

There are many types of accidents that fall under Florida personal injury laws, but the majority of these cases start with an insurance claim. The at-fault party in many situations, has insurance to cover losses, such as policies for property owners, businesses or homeowners’ insurance. After being injured, you file a claim for damages to outline how the policyholder was at fault and the nature of your losses. The insurance company will often make a counteroffer to settle, at which point the parties enter into negotiations. In many cases, you can reach an agreement to resolve the case. If not, you will have to file a lawsuit in court.

Mediation is a session that occurs alongside the legal process according to ADR rules established by Florida courts. The proceedings are an extension of settlement discussions, though there is more structure to the negotiations. Through mediation, it is often possible to reach a compromise in a personal injury case, even when you thought it was not possible.

Basics of Mediation Proceedings in Florida

Mediation does not take place in a courtroom, so it is a relatively informal proceeding. The parties will attend, along with their respective attorneys. The key role in the session is the mediator, who will oversee the discussions. This person is trained in tactics to encourage and facilitate productive conversations, helping the parties see eye-to-eye. In some cases, especially those involving complex subject matter, the mediator may also have a background in a specialty area.

The exact steps in mediation will vary based upon the case, but the process may involve:

  • An exchange of briefs between the parties and mediator, containing relevant evidence, facts of the case, and proposed resolution;
  • Opening statements and arguments by each party;
  • Questioning of the parties by the mediator;
  • Separate breakout sessions between each party and the mediator to assess key issues; and,
  • Negotiations toward a settlement, with input and encouragement from the mediation professional.

Note that the mediator does not make a decision or any legal or factual findings in mediation. The goal is to reach a settlement on disputes so there is no verdict.

Benefits of Mediation for Accident Cases in Florida

Mediation is an effective solution for Florida personal injury claims because both parties can benefit, rather than taking a win-lose approach. As the victim of an accident, some of the most notable advantages are:

  • When you work through disputes by agreement, you have the benefit of certainty in the outcome. Juries can be unpredictable, and they may not side with you despite the evidence. With mediation, you enter into a binding agreement.
  • Mediation is a legal proceeding, but it is an informal session. There are no objections, and you may not even have to deal with discovery and depositions.
  • Because it is relaxed, mediation means less stress for those who might be intimidated by legal proceedings. Instead of being grilled on the facts, you can expect to be part of a discussion toward compromise.
  • Mediation can be accomplished in a day, possibly a couple for cases with complicated facts. Litigation may take months or even years to get a result.
  • Because of the informal process and reduction in time to resolve your personal injury case, mediation often means less in legal costs.

Types of Personal Injury Claims in Florida

In Florida, mediation is involved in a wide array of accident cases. With most personal injury claims, the incident is the result of negligence. The term refers to a theory of liability in the practice of law, in which you must show that the at-fault party caused the accident through a failure to exercise reasonable care. Negligence will be an issue when you participate in mediation for:

  • A car crash, including those involving Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies;
  • Collisions involving trucks, 18-wheelers, semis, and large commercial vehicles;
  • Bicycle and pedestrian accidents;
  • Incidents involving e-scooters and e-bikes; and,
  • Slip and falls, trips, and other accidents occur because of dangerous conditions on the property.

Mediation is also an option to resolve your claim for a medical malpractice case, though there is a very specific definition of negligence under Florida law. You may also participate in mediation in a claim for a defective product, which is based upon strict liability. It is not necessary to prove fault in such a case.

Comparing Mediation and Other Legal Options in Florida

You can also gain some perspective on the benefits of mediation in Florida personal injury cases by comparing it to other ways of resolving your claim:

Settlement: The core of settlement is agreement, and these discussions typically take place between the respective attorneys for the parties. Settling your case is ideal, but it is not always possible to compromise when the insurance company will not pay fairly. There will come a point when it is necessary to go to court because you are putting your rights in jeopardy by agreeing to an amount that is too low to cover your losses.

Other ADR Options: Mediation is a type of ADR, but there are other proceedings that are a way to avoid litigation and the courtroom. Arbitration is similar to mediation in that it is less formal than a court case, but the key difference is that some proceedings are binding.

Litigation: A court case involves many pretrial stages before you go before the jury, as well as complicated proceedings during the trial itself. Months of preparation, court hearings, motions, discovery, and depositions occur before the trial date.

Compensation for Personal Injury Cases in Florida

The route may vary regarding how your case is finalized, whether through settlement, mediation, or a jury verdict at trial. However, the types of monetary damages that are available for personal injury claims are the same. Compensation is meant to make you whole after suffering injuries in an accident to the greatest extent possible. There are two categories:

  1. Economic Damages: In this class, you suffer losses that are tangible and definite. They can be measured in dollar value because you will have a receipt, invoice, or other documentation. The main part of economic damages is the costs of medical treatment, including emergency care, surgery, hospitalization, rehab, and other services. You can also recover lost wages if you cannot work because of your injuries.
  2. Noneconomic Damages: Some losses are subjective and personal, with no receipts. Still, you most certainly suffer hardship because of your injuries so you can obtain these amounts through noneconomic damages. Examples include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and scarring and disfigurement.

Options When Mediation is Not Successful in Florida

Another important, attractive benefit of mediation is that it is not binding. When the session does not produce an agreement that both parties will sign, mediation concludes. As mentioned, the mediator will not make a finding or decision.

In such a situation, your personal injury claim will pick up where you left off in the legal process. If you were discussing settlement, you can either return to the conversations or file a lawsuit. When you have already initiated litigation, the proceedings will continue from the last hearing date.

Why Skilled Legal Counsel is Essential in Florida

You can benefit from mediation in many ways, but it is important to retain legal representation to ensure you capture the advantages. A Florida personal injury lawyer will advocate for you during mediation and tackle all necessary tasks for your case, including:

  • Preparing the informational brief in advance of mediation;
  • Advising you on the strengths and weaknesses of your claims in the context of mediation;
  • Arguing your side and presenting important facts during opening statements;
  • Stressing key points in your favor;
  • Counseling you on the fairness of any offer you consider;
  • Drafting and reviewing any agreement you reach during mediation; and,
  • Entering proper orders in court to finalize your case.

Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer to Learn More

The benefits of mediation in Florida personal injury claims are clear, but retaining experienced representation is critical to ensuring you can make the most of the process. Our Florida personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law, P.A. are skilled at leveraging your position in mediation, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today. We can schedule a consultation to provide additional details about your rights.

Related Content: How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take in Florida?

 

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Table of Contents