In the fiscal year 2011, over 10,000 personal injury cases not involving a motor vehicle were filed in Texas Civil District Courts. Given the high number of cases being filed every year, courts have become inundated with litigation, which causes every case on the court’s docket to go through the judicial process much slower. In an effort to decrease the cases on the docket and to save money for the clients and state resources, many judges will order a party to mediation. Mediation is one way in which parties can settle their issues outside the presence of the judge, but reach an agreement that is legally binding on both parties. Most of us are familiar with the idea of mediation, but lack the knowledge of what actually goes on during a court ordered mediation. There are several elements that comprise mediation: the mediator’s opening statement, the party’s statements, individual caucuses, and the closure of mediation. Each aspect of mediation is very important and serves the ultimate goal of settling the dispute between the parties agreeably and without the need for further costly litigation.
The mediator will open the mediation session with an opening statement. This is the time where the mediator will ensure that everybody is familiar with some key ground rules, what the tone of the day will be, and to introduce themselves to the participants. The mediator during this time will gain the trust of the parties to settle their dispute and to ensure that everybody is on the same page as to how the day will operate. Once the mediator has set forth the ground rules, the parties will make their opening statements.
Each party will have the opportunity to present their case before the other party and the mediator. As in court, the Plaintiffs will present their case first. During this time, your attorney will present the facts of the case, the legal theories being argued, and why you are entitled to a recovery under the law. This process will allow for the opposing party to better understand your case and give the mediator an outline of your arguments. After both parties have had the chance to present their opening statements, a joint discussion will occur.
For the party caucuses, each side will be assigned their own room. While in this room, the mediator will meet with the party one at a time and discuss the case. These conversations with the mediator are confidential, but very influential as to the outcome of the mediation. During this time your attorney will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case as well as the points that you are willing to compromise. By sharing both the strengths and weaknesses of your case, the mediator will be able to better determine the “value” of your case and an appropriate settlement amount. The mediator will go back and forth between the parties playing devil’s advocate in an attempt to move both parties towards a common value.
After the caucuses have been held, there are two potential outcomes: the parties have agreed on a common settlement amount, or the parties were unable to reach an agreement and they will proceed to trial. In all mediations, the hope is to settle your case to put more money in your pocket. By mediating, your attorney is able to keep costs lower than if the case were to go to trial. Another benefit of mediation is that if you are able to reach an agreement, it will be binding on the parties, whereas trial, there is no guarantee that you will win.
To ensure that you have a successful mediation, it is important to hire an attorney with a proven record both in and out of the courtroom. The Talaska Law Firm has been able to gain millions of dollars through mediation for countless clients. The reputation that the attorneys at the Talaska Law Firm have garnished ensures that your case will settle for its full value.
For a free and confidential case evaluation, please call the Talaska Law Firm at 713-869-1240. Remember that the law limits the time you have to act, so be sure to call today.
For more information on mediation or alternative dispute resolution, please go to the State Bar of Texas’ Alternative Dispute Resolution Section at http://www.texasadr.org/.