When a victim sustains a personal injury in Georgia, they often wonder how they can recover compensation. While a lawsuit might be the first option that comes to mind, settlement negotiations and mediation often precede trial.
Mediation and settlements are a way for victims and defendants to resolve their matters without going to court. This often involves a lengthy back and forth between the parties and their attorneys, but ultimately, a final amount is reached that both parties agree upon. An objective third party oversees negotiations in mediation, while settlement agreements are usually done through the parties’ lawyers. However, you are not required to accept a final offer and can always file a lawsuit to recover compensation.
If you need to recover compensation in your Georgia injury case, our personal injury lawyers can help. Contact Howe Law today at (844) 876-4357 for a free case assessment.
Understanding the Differences Between Mediation and Settlements in a Georgia Injury Case
Many people have heard the terms mediation and settlement but might have little understanding of how they operate in a Georgia personal injury case. If you were injured as a result of another person’s negligence, you will have a few routes to recover compensation, with mediation and settling your case being two potential options. However, there are distinct differences between mediation and settlements that can significantly impact your case that you should be aware of. Our Georgia personal injury attorneys can review your claim to help you decide the best choice for your case.
Many people are familiar with the concept of settlement agreements. A settlement is an agreement between two parties, typically a victim and the person that injured them, that dictates the compensation to be paid to conclude the matter. This acts as an alternative to trial, saving each side from the time and cost of taking the case to court.
One of the major differences from mediation is the parties involved in settlement negotiations. In most settlements, only the parties involved in the personal injury and their lawyers are parties to negotiations. The process typically involves a back-and-forth between the parties’ attorneys, negotiating offers and counteroffers. While this process might keep you from going to court, it can also take a significant amount of time to settle a case and ultimately might not reach the number your injuries demand.
Part of any settlement negotiation in a Georgia personal injury case involves providing evidence like medical records and lost wages to determine a value for your case. However, insurance companies have their own methods of determining a case’s worth and rarely offer a claim’s full value during a settlement. In many cases, a lawsuit will be necessary to recover additional damages that could not be secured in settlement negotiations. Before that, our team can help you determine if mediation would be a suitable alternative.
Mediation is an alternative to the settlement process that could help victims recover a higher compensatory award than they would get negotiating with the insurance company. This is because, unlike settlements, an independent third party known as a “mediatory” oversees the mediation process. This should not be confused with what a judge does during a trial. A mediator does not look at the evidence to decide the question of negligence in a personal injury case like a judge or jury would but is there to guide negotiations to a place where both parties agree to settle the matter.
The issue with mediation for personal injury victims is that it might not fully compensate you for your damages. The purpose of mediation is to avoid trial, which usually involves a compromise between parties whereby a victim settles for an amount the defendant is likely to pay. In some cases, the defense might make a final offer during mediation, signaling their unwillingness to negotiate further. However, you are not legally obliged to accept the outcome of the mediation and can file a lawsuit if the process proves unhelpful. Our Atlanta personal injury lawyers can represent your interests in whichever negotiation process you choose and help file a lawsuit if that is the best way to recover compensation.
How are Mediation and Settlements Similar in a Georgia Injury Case?
There are arguably more similarities between mediation and settlements than there are differences. As mentioned, both act as an alternative to trial, potentially saving each party excessive time and money to conclude their case. This might be a suitable solution for more minor personal injuries but might not be the best option for serious cases.
Settlements and mediations usually require a compromise between the parties. This means being willing to give up some compensation in return for settling the matter quickly so you can recover the compensation you need. However, this could leave you with less money than your case is worth, requiring you to cover your remaining damages from your pocket. If your case involves severe injuries, you might experience pain and suffering long after the initial injuries have healed. A mediation or settlement agreement might not consider these damages in the final agreement, but a lawsuit could.
Fortunately, the one thing they both have in common is that neither is a binding agreement unless accepted by both parties. If, at the end of negotiations, a final number is offered that is below the true value of your case, you are under no obligation to accept the deal and can walk away. If at any point you feel that negotiations are not bearing fruit and just wasting time, we can switch gears and use the records we have to prepare a lawsuit to file on your behalf. You deserve to recover every dollar someone else’s negligence cost you and need not settle for an amount less than your claim is worth. Our Alpharetta personal injury attorneys can help you recover the full range of damages you are entitled to at trial, if necessary.
Our Georgia Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you have suffered a personal injury in Georgia, our Columbus personal injury lawyers can help you recover compensation regardless of the path needed to get there. For a free review of your case, call Howe Law today at (844) 876-4357.