It can be difficult to get an insurance company to make a fair offer of compensation to the victim of another’s negligence. Some injury victims think the only option when settlement negotiations fail is to take the claim to court. However, courts often require both parties to attend mediation before the case can proceed toward a jury trial.
Below, our experienced attorneys discuss mediation, including the process and the pros and cons. If you were injured by another’s negligence, we are prepared to help resolve the situation, with the goal of securing full compensation for your damages. If the insurance company does not make a fair offer, we are prepared to seek resolution through mediation or a jury trial.
Our Lafayette personal injury lawyers have obtained millions on behalf of our clients, and we have been helping Louisiana injury victims for more than 25 years. There are no upfront fees to obtain our services.
What is Mediation?
Mediation refers to a meeting with a neutral third party that listens to both sides, analyzes the relevant legal theories, and offers a recommendation for resolving the dispute. Sometimes the result of a mediation session is binding and cannot be challenged, while other times it is non-binding and can be appealed by filing a lawsuit or using an alternative dispute resolution.
Typically, mediators meet with both sides together and then separately to determine what each side wants and discuss possible solutions. Unlike a jury trial, there are usually no restrictions on what can be presented to the mediator. Statements made by either side cannot later be used at a trial. Mediation often takes a few hours, but there are times when it could go on for days.
Louisiana Mediation Act
In Louisiana, the mediation process is regulated by state law. Louisiana Revised Statutes Title 9, § 4101, also known as the Louisiana Mediation Act, regulates:
- Procedures for attorneys
- Mediator qualifications
- Mediator selection process
For example, when an order for mediation is signed, both parties are encouraged to reach a mutual agreement on who should be appointed as mediator. However, if they cannot agree within 15 days of the order for mediation being signed, each party must submit a list of four names to the other side.
Both parties can strike any names on the list, and if any names remain from the two lists, the court can pick one. If no names remain on either list, the court will appoint a mediator from the approved register. Once the mediator is appointed, mediation must be finished within 90 days of notice of the appointment of a mediator.
Who Qualifies To Be a Mediator?
There are two criteria for being appointed a mediator in Louisiana. First, you must have been a judge at the district, appellate or supreme court level for at least 10 years and no longer be serving as a judge. You must also fit one of the following criteria:
- Completed 40 classroom hours of training in a course conducted by the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Committee or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section. You must also be licensed to practice law, and have had that license for a minimum of five years; or
- Finished the 40-classroom-hour training requirement and have mediated more than 25 disputes or completed more than 500 hours of dispute resolutions. People who are not currently licensed to practice law may still be appointed as mediator if they satisfy these criteria.
Court Orders for Mediation
When mediation is ordered by a court, it could require any of the following three things:
- Attendance of both parties, including those who have the authority to negotiate and enter into binding agreements
- Advance submission of a position paper and other relevant information to the mediator and other parties
- Little meaningful participation by counsel or either party during the mediation session
The mediation process is much less formal than a jury trial. This encourages both sides to present their case without the burden of special legal procedures. Both sides have less fear of saying the wrong thing, particularly when mediation is non-binding and the things they say cannot later be used in court.
The cost is split between both parties, and mediation is much cheaper for both sides compared to a jury trial. This lower cost and the speed of mediation are two of the biggest benefits for both sides.
That said, mediation could become quite costly if it goes on for more than a few hours. Another challenge is getting the insurance company to agree to resolve the case through mediation, as it requires extra work on their part. For example, they must attend the mediation session.
It is best not to go through mediation unless you have good reason to believe the insurance company is interested in resolving the claim. They may not be and then the whole exercise may just be a waste of time and money.
Victims should strongly consider meeting with an attorney to discuss legal options, including mediation.
Call Galloway Jefcoat to Discuss Legal Options
You do not need to go through the legal process alone, particularly when the insurance company is committed to denying or underpaying claims. You need compensation to help secure your future, and victims who hire attorneys often get more compensation than those who go it alone.
At Galloway Jefcoat, there is no risk in contacting us or hiring us to represent you, even if we validate your claim. We do not get paid for representing you unless you receive compensation.
We know this is a difficult time for you, as we have helped numerous injury victims file claims for compensation. Visit our client reviews page to learn what past clients have to say about working with us.
No upfront fees or obligations. Call (337) 984-8020.