John Cooper Tells VTLA Seminar about the Benefits of Mediation in Virginia Injury Cases
Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers partner John Cooper recently spoke about the benefits of mediation in injury cases at a Virginia Trial Lawyers Association advocacy seminar in Virginia Beach.
The VTLA held its continuing legal education (CLE) seminar “Advocacy in Thought, Word and Deed” at the Holiday inn Virginia Beach – Norfolk on Oct. 17.
The event entailed a wealth of information for lawyers with sessions on the selection of “juror advocates,” thinking fast, a session from judges on advocacy in the courtroom, the ethics of advocacy, trial presentation, and the use of technology in cases.
John Cooper, a founding partner of Norfolk-based Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, gave a presentation with the Hon. F. Bradford Stillman (Ret.) of the McCammon Group.
It considered how mediation can present “novel strategies” to get results for clients.
The presentation included submissions in mediation hearings, presentations, strategies, client control, mediator control, and setting client expectations. Although mediation is playing an increasingly important role in injury cases the presentation also covered times when you should not mediate.
Mediation is increasingly being used in cases, leading the process to be described as the “new trial.”
It is a way to resolve disputes that few people who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents fully understand and appreciate. Mediation brings together the parties in a less formal setting than a trial room with an experienced mediator, typically a retired judge. The parties can talk about the areas they disagree on. They often reach a resolution in the less formal and adversarial format of mediation.
Mediation is compulsory in some states. It’s voluntary in Virginia. There is a difference between mediation and arbitration. At the end of an arbitration, a panel makes a ruling that the parties must abide by. The parties can reject recommendations in mediation.
Benefits of Mediation in Virginia Injury Cases
A less formal setting
A mediation is more like an informal meeting than a formal court hearing. The parties may be more relaxed and open to compromise.
Less Risk / More Control
Parties who take a case all the way to trial face a gamble. Juries are unpredictable and you could end up losing your case. The parties essentially leave the result of the case in the hands of complete strangers on the jury. Mediation lets the parties maintain more control of the negotiations and, ultimately, the result of their case. If they are presented with an offer they do not think is unfair, they do not have to accept it.
Privacy / confidentiality
If your case ends up in court, your privacy can be compromised. In high profile injury cases, you can end up on local TV or in the newspapers. When a case is successfully mediated, the parties may agree that the terms of the settlement are confidential. This can be important for a well-known defendant like a railroad or a business that wants to protect its image. Likewise, people who end up injured may not want everyone to know they ended up with $1.2 million.
Personal injury lawsuits that go to trial may be costly. They can entail expert witnesses and large amounts of paperwork. Although your personal injury attorney will not take a cut until the case is resolved, going to trial pushes up the costs. Mediation offers the parties a chance to reach a settlement on more affordable terms.
The voluntary nature of mediation
The choice to mediate or to accept the suggestions of the mediator is solely up to the parties in a case. If a party is unhappy with the best offer that can be reached in a mediation, there is nothing that says they must accept that offer. The parties can still go to trial or reach a settlement on the eve of a trial.
There is no doubt that the increased use of mediation has transformed the personal injury litigation process in Virginia. Some studies suggest the success rate of mediation is as high as 85%. The attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers frequently work on mediations with clients. However, mediation is not a panacea for every car accident, truck accident or premises liability case.
If you or a family member wants to file a personal injury claim or find out more about the benefits of mediation in Virginia injury cases, please talk to our experienced Norfolk-based legal team.