If you are injured by a negligent driver in a traffic collision in the Orlando area, you are entitled under Florida law to compensation for your medical bills and lost wages.
The problem is proving that you’ve been injured and winning the compensation you are entitled to by law.
What if the insurance company rejects your claim? Will you have to file a lawsuit? Do you have other legal options?
You do, and if you keep reading, you’ll learn about an important legal option in Florida.
In recent years in this state, mediation has been increasingly used as an alternative to a courtroom trial in personal injury cases, divorces, business disputes, and other types of legal conflicts.
A mediation procedure is less formal than a courtroom trial, and unlike a trial, everything that happens in mediation is confidential.
A trained, certified mediator guides negotiations between the disputants with the goal of a mutually acceptable agreement.
Mediation is designed to help disputing parties communicate clearly with each other, to reach an agreement that both sides can live with, and to save everyone some time and money.
Any arrangement reached through a mediation procedure is an agreement made exclusively by the disputing parties themselves.
Although a mediator guides and directs the process, no judge or jury imposes a resolution.
WHO ARE THE MEDIATORS AND WHAT DO THEY DO?
Mediators in the state of Florida are usually attorneys or retired judges who have had considerable training in conflict resolution, and they function as neutral parties in the mediation process.
They work to help both sides of a dispute reach appropriate and voluntary solutions that work for all parties involved.
A mediator does not decide who “wins” and “loses.”
Control over the outcome of the case stays with you and the other participants.
In personal injury cases, when the insurance company and the accident victim’s attorney cannot reach a negotiated settlement, the victim typically files a personal injury lawsuit.
In Florida, judges order mediation in almost all personal injury cases.
Mediation often resolves cases more quickly and less expensively than trials, so by ordering mediation for most cases, Florida judges ensure that only the most difficult personal injury disputes become full courtroom trials.
HOW DOES MEDIATION HELP INJURED PARTIES?
Usually, mediation sessions are conducted in an attorney’s conference room so that the disputants are negotiating in a casual – yet confidential – environment.
The injured party, called the plaintiff, and the party whose negligence allegedly caused the accident, called the defendant, both appear at the sessions with their attorneys, and the insurance company sends an adjuster and/or the company’s own attorney or attorneys.
After the mediator explains the process and rules, both sides are allowed to make their arguments and present their evidence.
You and your attorney will need to present your medical records, the police accident report, and any physical evidence that helps your case.
You’ll need to identify and cite the sections of your insurance policy that promise coverage, and you’ll argue that the defendant’s negligence caused you to be injured and that the defendant should be held liable.
After the rules are explained and both sides have presented their cases, the mediator then separates the parties, usually into separate rooms, and moves back and forth between them, trying to find potential areas of agreement, common ground, and compromise.
If the participants reach a compromise, they can avoid going to court, and they sign an agreement that is an enforceable legal contract.
WILL A MEDIATION HELP MY CAR ACCIDENT CASE?
Mediation offers you a number of advantages if you’ve been injured by a negligent driver.
One benefit is that mediation usually means that attorney fees and costs are substantially lower than the cost of a trial.
Victims typically receive a reimbursement check from the insurance company within only two or three weeks after a mediation settlement has been agreed to and signed.
If you are an injury victim, and you are not offered an acceptable settlement amount during the mediation procedure, you retain the option of taking your personal injury lawsuit to trial.
Florida law entitles the injured victims of negligence to complete reimbursement for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more – if they can prove that they have been injured by someone else’s negligence.
If you are injured in a central Florida traffic accident, seek medical attention at once.
Summon the police and make sure that you will be able to obtain a copy of their accident report.
Trade insurance information with the other driver, take photographs of the accident and accident scene, and try to get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses.
WHY SHOULD YOU TAKE YOUR CASE IMMEDIATELY TO AN ATTORNEY?
Then take the case immediately to a personal injury lawyer.
After you’ve been injured, do not even speak to an insurance company, don’t sign any insurance documents, and do not accept a settlement.
You may be offered a settlement that’s far below the real value of your injury claim, and you might even sign away your right to file a lawsuit regarding the accident.
Instead, let an experienced Orlando personal injury attorney – a trained negotiator who routinely deals with these types of cases – negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Personal injury attorneys understand how insurance companies operate and negotiate, and a good attorney will settle for nothing less than the full amount of compensation a client needs and deserves.
Then, if an acceptable settlement is not offered to you, your attorney may recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Mediation, in many cases, should be the first step when that lawsuit is filed, and as mentioned previously, mediation in most cases will be ordered by the court prior to any trial.
WHAT IF THE MEDIATION PROCESS FAILS?
Even when mediation “fails” and your case ends up in a courtroom anyway, the mediation procedure allows you and your personal injury attorney get a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s case, and it helps you both evaluate how a jury may treat your own case in a courtroom setting.
Nothing is more important than your health and your future, and if you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, the law in Florida is on your side, but you must be represented by an aggressive Orlando personal injury attorney who will fight diligently on your behalf – at every stage of the legal process – until your case has been successfully resolved.