A previous post on this blog discussed how mediation can be a good way for victims of truck accidents to resolve their claims against a negligent truck driver, that driver’s employer and the respective insurance companies involved.
Sometimes, mediation is court-ordered. In other cases, our attorneys can help our clients decide whether mediation is right for them.
For both types of mediation, though, an accident victim should strongly consider having legal representation available, even if the mediation is being done very early on or even before a formal lawsuit has been filed.
The reason for this is that, even if a mediator is trying to fulfill his or her role as a third-party neutral faithfully, it is hard not to develop some sort of opinion about the case. Each mediator comes in to a mediation with their own biases, and these might not line up squarely with the interests of an accident victim.
Moreover, the role of the mediator is to bring the two sides, basically, the victim and the insurance company, to an agreement. Their job is not to give either side legal advice and opinions, nor is it even to tell them whether the agreement is fair in the objective sense. In other words, there may be a temptation for a mediator to think that if both sides are willing to sign, then the agreement is fair.
While our office is not opposed to mediation properly handled, we recognize these potential weaknesses in the system. During a mediation, we will give our honest opinion about whether a proposal is really fair to a client or not. We are also there to point out when we think the mediator might not be seeing the case quite right and will propose legal alternatives to our clients. We feel the end result of our approach will be agreements that are truly fair to the victims of serious accidents.