If you have received injuries in an accident resulting from someone else’s negligence, you may be facing overwhelming losses. Injured New Yorkers often incur significant medical expenses and forced time off work as they recover. You should not be responsible for the financial consequences of an accident that another party caused. A personal injury claim or a lawsuit is a way of recovering what you have lost and holding the at-fault party accountable for their negligence. Mediation is a way of reaching a settlement without going to trial. Mediation is legally binding only if you reach a settlement agreement.
Personal injury cases involve several stages. Once you consult your attorney about your claim, they will investigate the accident to determine what caused it and who is liable for your losses. Your lawyer will then enter negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurer. Most claims end when the attorney and the insurance company agree on a settlement to redress the losses you suffered due to the accident.
Sometimes, however, these negotiations fail. When your lawyer and the insurance company cannot agree, you may file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation in court. However, most New York civil courts will require you to mediate with the defendant before your case can go to trial. Understanding how mediation works and what to expect can help you feel confident as your lawsuit proceeds.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). During a mediation session, a mediator (usually a retired judge or neutral attorney) will attempt to help you and the other side find common ground to construct a mutually beneficial settlement. The mediator will use their experience in ADR to help both parties understand the practical and legal implications of the situation. The mediator will also communicate with each party individually so that they can speak frankly about what might be possible.
If the mediation session is successful, both parties can save significant amounts of time and money by avoiding a courtroom trial. Mediation sessions have relatively low costs and can often result in a solution by the end of the day.
While the mediator will offer suggestions throughout the session, neither side must accept a given proposition. In other words, a mediator’s offers do not have the same legal force as a court order or a jury’s verdict. You may accept or reject any of the mediator’s suggestions, as they are not legally binding.
Does Mediation Mean Settlement?
Mediation is one avenue toward a possible settlement after the initial negotiations break down. If both parties actively work toward a solution in a mediation session, they can often find a mutually beneficial agreement. If they decide to settle during mediation, the agreement will become legally binding once both sides sign a settlement agreement that includes the terms agreed upon in mediation and sign it together.
Once the contract is written and signed, it becomes legally enforceable. If either party breaches the contract, they will face legal consequences.
When Is a Mediation Settlement Not Legally Binding?
Mediation settlements are not generally subject to being overturned once they have been written and signed. In most cases, both parties benefit from upholding their end of the bargain.
However, some specific circumstances can lead to a voiding of the contract. Such instances include when the contract was drafted or signed:
- Based on fraudulent misrepresentation
- Under duress or undue influence
- When a party was mentally incapacitated
- For an illegal purpose
If you believe your mediation agreement is subject to one of the above factors, consult your attorney as soon as possible.
Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney
If you have suffered injuries in an accident in New York City, you deserve compensation for your losses. However, life after an accident can feel overwhelming, and you may be unsure how to file a claim.
The skilled and knowledgeable New York personal injury attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP understand the difficulties you are facing right now. Over the past twenty years, we have excelled in representing injured New Yorkers. We are committed to putting our experience to work for you too. We will take care of every aspect of your case on your behalf and will fight for the most favorable outcome possible in your case.
Our law firm works on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not charge fees until we get compensation for you. You have nothing to lose. Call us today or contact us online for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.