Mediation is an informal means to try to resolve a claim quickly without the need for Court intervention. If both parties approach mediation in good faith, a resolution can often be reached. While informal, a mediation does require preparation and expertise on the part of the attorneys and the mediator. Otherwise, the mediation can go very badly, leaving the claim unresolved and the parties angry at each other. The following is a discussion of a few areas of preparation that can help avoid an unpleasant result.
1) Know the Law – That seems simple, but if the attorney appears at a mediation and does not have a strong understanding of the controlling law, then the attorney will certainly fail to convince the other side to soften their position.
2) Know the Facts – Again, it seems very simple, but it is difficult to be convincing if you do not have a command of the facts of the case. Why would an Employer/Insurer offer more money if they are unconvinced that opposing counsel could make a strong presentation at a hearing?
3) Know the Value – So many times a claimant, with no understanding of the law, appears for a mediation and has unreasonable expectations about the value of a claim. Conversely, the Employer/Insurer should be well informed about the value of a claim so that there are no surprises during the negotiation process.