Mediation is a popular way to resolve legal conflicts outside of a courtroom in South Carolina. Using the mediation process allows both parties to work together toward a settlement they can agree on. Following are a few tips on how to win at mediation if you become injured in an accident in South Carolina and file a personal injury claim.
Understanding the Mediation Process
Knowing what mediation is and understanding the steps in the process is a good way to start. A mediator works as a neutral go-between for communication and negotiation between both parties in the case. The mediator is not allowed to take sides. Instead, they guide the opposing parties toward an agreeable settlement.
In South Carolina, the parties in most personal injury cases must participate in the mediation process. Preparing for the mediation session is simpler if you understand how it works.
Strategies That Can Help You Win at Mediation
The key to mediation strategies is advance preparation. If you want your mediation session to be a success, taking the following steps is helpful:
- Gather your evidence and all the documents you might need for your case. You need medical records, police reports, and insurance policies. Write down your goals to solve the problem and what’s important to you. How can mediation help you achieve these goals? Are you willing to make compromises to reach a mediation agreement?
- Ensure you communicate clearly and listen to the other side’s arguments. When you can communicate your wishes better and understand the other side’s viewpoint, you can reach an agreement sooner.
Why Timing Is Important in Mediation
When to go to mediation is a decision that can impact the successful resolution of your case. For example, if medical expenses and treatments are incomplete, the injured party should wait until their doctor releases them from care before entering mediation. If the injured person acts too quickly, they can face a financial burden if they settle too soon. If their treatment wasn’t finished when they began their case and they settle without considering future expenses, they’ll be unable to obtain more money later.
In addition, parties become more stubborn in their positions the longer they wait to resolve the case. Reaching a solution, both parties agree to can be difficult when emotions and tensions escalate over time. When the parties enter their mediation session soon after the claim is filed, they are more apt to talk freely, and amicable negotiations will be more likely.
During mediation, both sides should communicate freely to reach an agreement and resolve their differences in a calm manner. The mediator’s job is to facilitate non-confrontational discussions between the parties. By law, the parties must spend at least three hours in mediation unless an agreement is reached.
Communicating Effectively with a Strong Opening Statement
The mediator introduces the parties, explains the rules that govern mediation, and has the parties sign confidentiality agreements. Then, the parties make their opening statements. Each party can present its theory of the case and explain what they want to achieve through mediation.
Acting respectfully and in an open manner is important during mediation. If you remain calm and reasonable during this mediation process, it can go more smoothly, and it’s possible that an agreement can be reached. The mediator’s job is to encourage open communication, facilitate an exchange of ideas and offers, and help the two parties reach an agreement that benefits everyone.
Remembering that the mediator does not judge or take sides is also essential. Their job is to maintain a calm, non-combative environment where the parties can attempt to compromise. Rather than blaming or attacking the other party, working together to solve your differences can resolve your disagreement successfully.
Your opening statement must explain your expectations and goals for mediation clearly and concisely. It should outline the evidence that supports your position and explain why you deserve the amount of money you demand.
How to Navigate a Mediation Session
Your lawyer will prepare you for the mediation before the session begins. They will also likely discuss their strategy with you for getting the best possible result. Your attorney will understand how to “stack the deck” by offering some information upfront but holding some crucial information or evidence in reserve to use later at a more effective time in the mediation.
Additionally, your lawyer will understand that mediations have an ebb and flow. Depending on the offers made by your opponent, the best strategy might be to push forward and be more aggressive in maintaining your stance. At other times, it may be a better strategy to soften your stance.
Being flexible and adaptable in mediation will help you and the other side find a solution that is acceptable to everyone.
The Real Meaning of Winning at Mediation
You don’t necessarily get everything you want when you win at mediation. Instead, winning can be:
- Finding a solution both parties can accept, considering their interests and needs
- Keeping the proceedings confidential
- Finding a more creative and collaborative way to resolve disagreements
- Saving time and money
An experienced mediator can assist both parties in finding a solution that is beneficial. Creating an agreement that satisfies both parties helps obtain closure for the parties involved.
What a Lawyer Can Do for You
Find out more about using mediation to resolve your personal injury case. By getting help from an injury lawyer, you can avoid the lengthy process, stress, and expense of going to court, and your claim may be resolved quickly so you can go on with your life. In addition, you’ll benefit from having an experienced attorney shouldering the burden of your case, determining the best way to prove you deserve compensation, and using their firm’s resources to gather all available evidence to support your claim.