In California, as in most other states, the vast majority of cases do not proceed all the way through to trial. Most cases are settled well in advance of trial — and for good reason.
Litigation is often quite expensive, both financially and emotionally. What begins as a rather straightforward injury lawsuit against a negligent defendant-driver, for example, can quickly spiral into a multi-year, complex case that involves evidentiary and procedural issues, excessive conflict between the parties, the introduction of new defendants, and more.
Litigation is also inherently uncertain. There is always risk for plaintiffs and defendants that a jury trial will not yield good results. This uncertainty that accompanies all injury litigation, in California and elsewhere, pushes most plaintiffs and defendants toward settlement.
What is a settlement?
A settlement is simply an agreement in which the litigating parties agree to out-of-court restitution. In exchange for money, the plaintiff(s) must abandon their right to litigate their claims against the defendant(s).
For example, suppose that you are injured in a car accident because a speeding, negligent driver swerved on the highway and collided with you. You are concerned that, due to the presence of pre-existing injuries, you may not win at trial, or that — even if you win — the damages could be less than ideal. By negotiating a settlement with the defendant-driver, you can guarantee to recover damages (though for less than the maximum potential award at trial) to avoid the uncertainty of a loss. In return, you will have to agree to relinquish your claims against the defendant.
Mediation is an informal, sometimes daylong process, for negotiating a settlement. In a mediation, a neutral, third-party mediator is selected to guide a discussion between the various parties. Unlike standard litigation, which pits the plaintiff and the defendant against each other, mediation is meant to be collaborative. The mediator is tasked with hearing out each side and helping all parties understand the viewpoints of the others. The atmosphere of a mediation is generally much less tense than that of litigation.
Mediators do not make any binding decisions regarding the case. They are only there to help the parties reach a fair and reasonable settlement.
One benefit of mediation is that it allows each party to speak freely with regard to their own opinions, which can be difficult during the standard litigation process where each party has to be worried about their statements being entered into evidence. All communication made during mediation is confidential — statements made during mediation will only be allowed into evidence if both parties agree to it.
If you have suffered injuries as a result of a third party’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. With a skilled attorney at your side, you may be able to negotiate a favorable settlement early and avoid prolonged, frustrating litigation. Call West Coast Trial Lawyers at (888) 539-9582 for a free consultation with an experienced Beverly Hills personal injury lawyer today.