Copyright © 2020 Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduced with Permission.
Mediations could pose difficulties for anyone who brings a claim of negligence against another party. Fortunately, settling the Toledo head-on collision case provided little challenges for the client because she had an attorney familiar with cases like hers. Much in the same vein, an attorney could help you resolve your claim if you feel you were victimized by a negligent individual and wish to seek the compensation you need in or out of court.
Right around the time that the client came to our office, her first attorney sent a demand out. She still went with our office, and we did not know the amount that he requested in that demand. We followed up to get that initial offer and talked to our client about it. It was our advice that the offer was too low and that we should keep going and see what happened later with her ongoing treatment. After the case had been filed and depositions had been taken, we filed a motion for partial summary judgment on liability. We then went to a private mediation between ourselves, our client, and the insurance company for the other driver while our motion was still pending.
Our client and the defendant attempted to reach an out of court a settlement and did wind up reaching an agreement. The process we chose was private mediation. In mediation, there is an objective third person called the mediator, who is an impartial person with a lot of experience in settling cases. We wrote up a demand for settlement requesting payment of the policy limits from the defendant due to the severity of our client’s injuries, permanent injuries, and future treatment that she would require. We also sent a confidential statement to the mediator setting out our position, the strengths and weaknesses of the case, and what we thought it would take the case to get settled.
The other side’s attorney also sent a mediation statement. She sent it to the mediator and to us, so we had an idea of what some of her arguments were. As we had suspected, they involved arguments related to comparative negligence based on alcohol use. She seemed to agree that the injury was severe, but that there was a significant discount to the total value of the case based on comparative negligence issues.
Then, we went into the mediation, which was held at a local courthouse. We were there with our client, and the other attorney was there with her insurance adjuster on the phone. We did an initial brief statement, like a mini-opening statement with everybody in one room, and then we separated into two different conference rooms. The way the mediator works is going back and forth between the two different sides until, hopefully, an agreement is reached. He got a response to our initial demand and then we talked back and forth with the numbers, inching towards each other. At some point, we had to ask ourselves if the settlement offer was too good to walk away from, end up in trial, and possibly receive a lesser amount.
The way that we helped our client with the negotiation process was to help her understand where some of the offers were coming from. Based on our experience with prior cases, we were able to give her an idea of what we thought their highest offer might be that day. The other way we were able to assist her was by giving her our advice as far as the risk analysis of the situation and the amount of money on the table. We outlined for her the risks of what could happen if we went to trial.
Some of the risks that we were facing at the time were if the judge denied the motion that we had pending, it was likely that all of the information relating to alcohol would probably be presented to a jury, and that would probably negatively impact the case. We were able to advise her on at what point we thought that the offer was a number that made sense. What we were looking for was a fair number where, in our experience, she faced a risk of potentially getting less if she went to trial.
Our client’s biggest concern was for future medical expenses. This injury was something that she would be dealing with for a long time. She wanted to make sure that she was getting the compensation that she thought was fair for what she had been through already, as well as what she would be dealing with in the future—given that she was 31 and has already been told that she would get arthritis in her ankle. She also works on her feet, so the future was a big concern for her and was, therefore, a big part of the settlement.
What happened at the end of mediation was that we wrote up a statement. The defendant agreed to pay a dollar amount and the plaintiff agrees to take that and dismiss the claims against the defendant with prejudice, which means that the claim may not be filed again. The defendant agreed to pay our court costs, which was the filing fee that we had to pay to file the complaint. That eventually gets written up into a formal document to be executed by the client.
Settling the Toledo head-on collision case brought the client relief and the compensation our client needed. While every case is different, attorneys could still be able to help you through your case process. If needed, an attorney could work for you and represent your interests in mediation. If mediation proves unfavorable, an attorney could bring your claim to court. Reach out to an attorney today.
Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC