The process for recovering payment in an Indiana injury case can be complex. Plaintiffs and defendants will often enter negotiations to settle their cases before trial. When parties to a case reach a settlement agreement, the defendant pays a certain amount of damages to the plaintiff, and their case is voluntarily dismissed.
A settlement agreement can be reached in a variety of ways. They might be reached through informal discussions between the parties involved, their lawyers, and possibly the insurance company adjusters. However, parties can also resolve their differences through a more formal mediation process.
Mediations are different from informal settlement discussion in that they are presided over by neutral parties who are highly trained in trying to get the parties to reach a mutually beneficial compromise. During mediation, the neutral third party (the mediator) facilitates communication with the goal of the parties reaching a realistic and acceptable solution for everyone involved.
If you were hurt because of someone else’s negligence, our experienced Indiana personal injury attorneys at Wruck Paupore can help negotiate for the full compensation you deserve. Call us today at (219) 322-1166 for a free review of your claim.
A settlement is a type of agreement between parties that serves to resolve their legal dispute. When a settlement agreement is reached, the plaintiff receives payment from the defendant, and their lawsuit (if there is one) is dismissed. However, a settlement agreement can be achieved through multiple different processes. In many instances, settlements are reached through a process known as mediation. Our Indianapolis personal injury lawyers can help explain the following differences between mediated settlements and those that happen without mediation:
A mediation is a meeting between a plaintiff and a defendant that is presided over by a neutral third party (the mediator). The mediator is often a retired attorney or judge who is hired by both sides. They serve to facilitate communication and explore available options. Good mediators are experienced, understand the law and issues of your case, and have no specific interest in the outcome of the cases they mediate.
Mediation can be voluntary and can take place before or after filing of a lawsuit. Once a lawsuit is filed, however, the judge in a case may require that all parties participate in a mediation in an effort to resolve the case without a trial. Nearly all civil cases in Indiana are ordered to mediation by the court at some point in the proceeding.
Most mediations will follow a common structure. Meanwhile, informal settlement may happen more organically. For example, during a mediation, the parties will primarily communicate through the mediator, not directly. Meanwhile, during non-mediated settlements, parties may talk directly with each other or with attorneys in order to help reach an agreement. Furthermore, non-mediated settlements may occur over the course of weeks or months as parties trade evidence and offers back and forth.
In most cases, mediation will occur within a reasonable amount of time before trial. They are formal and usually occur over the course of a single day. In even the most complicated and catastrophic cases, we have never been involved in a mediation which took longer than two days to complete and this is the exception to the rule. Usually, all parties will gather in a single place and decision makers for the defendant (and their insurance companies) will be required to attend with representatives who have the full authority to settle the case on the defendant’s behalf.
Meanwhile, informal settlement discussion can arise less predictably. A non-mediated settlement may be reached at any point following an injury, before or after filing a lawsuit, and can occur from the time an injury occurs up to the time that a jury enters a verdict at trial. In fact, some cases settle informally during trial or even after the jury has returned a verdict.
Whether through informal discussion or formal mediation, our personal injury lawyers can help plaintiffs decide if they should accept any settlement offer.
The mediation process in Indiana is governed by the Indiana Rules of Court and its Rules of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Under rule 2.11, mediations are confidential and closed to everyone other than the parties involved, their legal representatives, and other persons who the mediator may invite. This confidentiality requirement cannot be waived. Discussions and statements at mediation cannot be used as evidence in court.
Most mediations will follow a common structure. Knowing what to expect from the process can help ease victims’ stress. Our Hammond, IN personal injury attorneys will be with our clients every step of the way to guide them through the process. However, it’s helpful to know the basic structure of a mediation process:
First, parties to a mediation will introduce themselves, and their mediator will lay down the ground rules. During introductions, the mediator may also provide a general outline of how the process will unfold.
After an introduction, both parties to the mediation may be asked to provide opening statements presenting their case and outlining why they believe they are correct. During opening statements, each side may present evidence that supports their claims. This step allows mediators to initially evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case and attain an idea of what could happen at trial if a settlement agreement is not reached.
Our experienced personal injury lawyers will draft a compelling opening statement for your case. Often, we will present pre-recorded interviews of witnesses and experts, 911 recordings, accident video, or photographs and video of our client’s injuries and medical recovery process.
After opening statements, the mediator will usually separate both parties and inquire further about their case. After being separated, the mediator will not tell one party what the other said unless given permission. Accordingly, plaintiffs and defendants may speak with the mediator more freely. Depending on the mediator, they may or may not have discussions directly with the client. Often they will communicate only with the client’s attorney, who will then discuss matters with the injury victim. Other mediators, however, do like to talk with the injury victim and their lawyers directly.
During the bargaining stage, the mediator will typically have a discussion with each party regarding the strengths and weaknesses of their claims. Afterward, the parties will have the mediator begin relaying demands and offers between them. Sometimes a mediator will offer the parties his or her own analysis of the issues in the case and what the mediator perceives as the likely outcome if the case is not resolved through agreement. As bargaining continues, conversations tend to move away from the facts of a case and begin to focus on offers and counteroffers.
The assistance of our Fort Wayne personal injury lawyers can be highly beneficial when negotiating for full compensation. Our attorneys will help plaintiffs identify inadequate offers and avoid low settlement agreements.
The mediation may conclude with a settlement agreement between the parties. However, if a settlement agreement is not reached, the case will continue to move forward. This might involve the case going to trial or it might involve further activity and returning for additional mediation at a later date. Our lawyers will help you decide the best course of action in your situation.
Many plaintiffs question how likely their cases are to settle if they enter into mediation. Mediation does not guarantee settlement and mediations often fail. However, mediation has proven to be a very effective tool at resolving disputes and the majority of personal injury lawsuits resolve at this stage. However, we do not believe in settling a case at mediation for less than fair value and we will advise you to proceed to trial in appropriate cases.
Our team will negotiate for the monetary damages our clients deserve. Contact the experienced Lafayette, IN personal injury attorneys at Wruck Paupore by calling (219) 322-1166 for a free case assessment so we can get you started on the way to financial recovery.
Client injured in auto accident after driver ran stop sign.
Women rear-ended while stopped at red light
Patient suffering nerve damage following hip operation.
Woman suffering a traumatic brain injury following semi-truck accident.
Woman suffering severe hip and ankle fracture after falling on defective step.
Man suffered headaches and other post-concussion symptoms from vehicle crash.
Woman suffering post-concussion syndrome after vehicle rear-ended by tractor trailer.
Man physically assaulted at his workplace.
Woman suffering physical and emotional abuse at nursing home.
Woman suffered from an ankle fracture after a truck turned in front of her vehicle.
Man suffered back injury after head-on collision.
Don is a founding partner and one of the nation’s top-ranked personal injury litigators. He is a member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, which includes less than 1% of the nation’s trial lawyers, and awarded the highest ranking given by Martindale Hubbel and AVVO.
More importantly, Don understands representing personal injury victims is about more than recovering the best settlement: it’s about helping clients get back on their feet and supporting them in every aspect of their recovery.
In nearly all cases, our clients seek compensation from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. Before forming Wruck Paupore, Jason worked for a prominent law firm representing some of the world’s largest insurers. This experience gives Jason a deep understanding of the insurance industry and the strategies it uses to pay injury victims as little as possible.
Jason -- and our entire team -- put this inside knowledge to work to force insurance companies to pay what is actually owed. Often, we use the insurance company’s own tactics against them as we fight for the full compensation our client deserves.
For more than four decades, Keith has been fighting for injury victims. During that time, he’s watched the insurance industry change, with insurers now more interested in protecting their stock price than treating injury victims fairly.
Since the beginning, Keith has put people first. From his childhood in Gary, Indiana during the 1960’s and working his way through law school, Keith has risen to become one of the Midwest’s most respected trial lawyers. He has never forgotten that being a lawyer is about helping people -- and seeing injury victims through struggles in a way that could change their lives forever.
Over the decades, Keith, Don and Jason have fought relentlessly for clients, even when other lawyers have said the case was impossible to win.