Mediation is a common, if not required, part of each personal injury lawsuit. Normally, once a mediation agreement is reached, written, and signed, it is legally binding. However, there are certain instances in which the contract may be overturned.
There are many stages in a personal injury case. First, your attorney will speak to you about the facts of the accident that caused your injury. They will also conduct their own investigation into the nature and cause of the accident. Next, your lawyer will attempt to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company in the hope that they will offer a settlement that covers the losses you have suffered as a result of the accident. Most personal injury cases are resolved with a settlement.
However, there are times when these negotiations do not yield the desired results. In these cases, you and your attorney may file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. Yet before the trial reaches the courtroom, you will often have the opportunity to resolve your differences with the defendant in a mediation session. Knowing what mediation is all about and the possible outcomes can help you feel prepared as your case moves forward.
How Does Mediation Work?
Mediation is a type of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It’s overseen by a legal professional such as a retired judge or a third-party attorney with extensive experience in personal injury law and ADR. The mediator’s experience will allow them to provide both parties with insights into their legal situation. The session will also be an opportunity for the mediator to speak to each side individually to glean how much common ground they might share.
The desired outcome of a mediation session is an agreement that both parties find acceptable so they can avoid going to court. Mediation does involve fees, but a session with a mediator tends to cost far less than a courtroom trial. Furthermore, while a trial can last several months or even years, mediation can sometimes bring about a palatable conclusion by the end of a single day. These are significant reasons to explore mediation before going to trial.
However, it is important to note that a mediator’s suggestions do not have the same legal force as a judge’s order or a jury’s verdict. Both sides are free to accept or reject the proposed solution, meaning that mediation is not legally binding like a courtroom trial.
Does Mediation Mean Settlement?
No. Mediation is one of many ways the two sides will attempt to reach a settlement they feel is in their best interests. If both parties work in good faith, a mediation session aims to help them reach an agreement that suits them. If this happens, the agreement can become legally binding if and only if the parties formalize it in a contract or a written mediation agreement.
Once the contract is drafted and signed by both parties, they are legally bound to the agreement. Each party can then enforce the contract against the other, meaning that a party that breaches the terms of the contract will face legal consequences. If no agreement is reached, there will be no settlement.
When Is a Mediation Agreement Not Legally Binding?
Once a mediation agreement has been written and signed, it is not usually subject to being overturned. Because the parties have put so much time and effort into reaching an agreement, they each have a vested interest in maintaining the contract.
However, in specific situations, the contract may be overturned. These situations include when the agreement was created or signed:
- Through fraudulent misrepresentation
- When one of the parties was suffering from mental incapacity
- Under undue influence or duress
- By mistake
- Under illegal circumstances
If you believe that the above factors may apply to your mediation agreement, speak to your attorney as soon as possible.
Read more: When Is Mediation Not A Good Idea?
Contact an Experienced Gibson Hill Personal Injury Personal Injury Attorney
If you were injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you deserve compensation for your losses. Filing a claim can feel overwhelming, however, especially when you are still in the process of recovering from your injuries.
Call on Gibson Hill Personal Injury for help. Our personal injury lawyers in Houston and Austin have developed an excellent reputation for fighting for the best interests of injured Texans, and we are ready to do the same for you. We will take care of every step of the process on your behalf and will not accept a settlement that is less than what you deserve. Contact us online or call us at 512-580-8334 today for a free consultation and learn more about your legal options.