What is Mediation and Why is Mediation Required in Florida
Mediation is required in every civil action in Florida. Mediation is a structured settlement conference that the parties to a civil lawsuit must attend. In every personal injury case that is in litigation, the Court will require the parties to meet at a mediation in order to try and settle their case. Mediation works – cases settle at mediation very often. A mediator must be certified in order to preside over a mediation conference. A mediation conference is scheduled, usually well in advance, in order to give both sides an opportunity to prepare. The Plaintiff, that is the person bringing the lawsuit, attends the mediation with their lawyer. They are responsible for presenting the case to the other side, the Defendant.
A mediation can be as simple as a short discussion about the facts of the case or as elaborate as a mini-trial with evidence, presentations of exhibits, visual aids, PowerPoints and other demonstrative tools. Our firm prepares for mediation on significant cases by gathering all of the client’s special damages, medical bills, liens, and other accident related expenses in order to specifically show the economic loss suffered by our clients.
Frequently, we will meet with visual aid companies to create mediation exhibits such as animations of the accident, PowerPoint demonstrations showing our clients’ case related photographs, videotape, damage charts, summaries of depositions, medical bills and insurance spreadsheets, accident and security films, relevant case law excerpts, jury instructions and verdict forms in order to present to the defense what we believe the jury in the trial of the case will ultimately see. The defense usually appears with the defense lawyer and a representative of the insurance company, however the Defendant individually can be required to attend as well. In the case of a business, a corporate representative can be in attendance. The mediator is typically a retired Judge or senior trial lawyer with vast experience over many years of handling similar cases.
The mediator listens to the initial case presentations from both sides that detail their case. Afterwards, the parties are usually separated so that the mediator can travel back and forth between the parties sharing relevant points and details about each side’s strength and weaknesses. Ultimately, the Plaintiff makes a settlement demand and hopefully, after some work and negotiation, the parties may reach a settlement agreement. If a settlement agreement is reached, a written mediation settlement agreement is signed by both sides and their representatives and the mediator notifies the Court of the result.
Mediation is a significant tool in trying to resolve a case since it forces both sides to attend a conference, hear from the other side and focus on the case.