In representing personal injury clients, I always prepare each case with the intention that they will eventually be tried in front of a jury. However, there are reasons that this is not always the best option for my clients.
- Jury trials can be extremely expensive. Often, expert witnesses are necessary, and sometimes more than one is needed. Each of these experts can cost up to $15,000 for just a day or even a half day of testimony.
- Jury trials are risky and sometimes fail to provide fair and appropriate justice. Even if you have a deserving case, some jurors may have been hiding biases that will not allow them to render an impartial verdict.
Because of these risks and expenses, more and more attorneys are turning to mediation, where cases are presented to a neutral mediator whose task is to bring the parties together and hopefully settle the case. There are many reputable mediation companies in New York that have highly qualified mediators prepared to hear these cases. Oftentimes, the mediator is a retired judge who has experience presiding over trials involving similar issues to those in your case.
Some of the other benefits to mediation:
- It is more cost effective than a trial: You don’t need to have your experts come in and testify because you are permitted to submit the written reports of treating doctors or other experts. You can simply submit the reports to the mediator to argue your case and to show exactly what the expert would testify to, if called at trial, without having to bear the expense of $15,000 to have that expert make a physical appearance.
- The mediation is not binding: Mediations are purely informal, and you can walk out at any time. You don’t have to settle the case if you feel that you are not being offered fair and reasonable compensation. It should not be confused with an arbitration, where the arbitrator’s award and decision can be binding.
- The issues that are likely to decide the case are being flushed out: Each party really finds out during the process what the other side’s strengths and weaknesses are, and what their arguments are likely to be in the event the case goes to trial.
Mediations are rapidly becoming more and more popular. Therefore, mediation companies have been springing up, offering rosters of highly qualified mediators to listen to these cases. The litigants, finding that it is cost-effective, are more than willing to attend. I would suggest that personal injury attorneys that are not yet familiar with how mediations work learn more – and not dismiss them – as they can be good alternatives to going to trial in some cases.