Most clients who come to my Vancouver Personal Injury law practice have heard of mediation. However, in order to take full advantage of mediation, a number of key points must be understood by you, the client, before the mediation takes place.
- How I select the mediator – Each personal injury case is unique – the complexity, the adjuster’s personality and how you, the client, present, are all factors that I consider before coming up with my shortlist of preferred mediators. I then post my shortlist on the Trial Lawyers Association of BC ListServ to find the best match for your case.
- At mediation, I present as though we were at your trial – providing the Court with my opening statement – I want the adjuster to see first hand how “trial-ready” I am. If the adjuster has come to mediation without enough authority to settle the case, I terminate the mediation. Because I presented as “trial-ready”, more often than not, when the adjuster returns to his/her office, the insurance company increases the offer. Adjusters that witness firsthand just how effective I am going to be at trial get the authority they need to settle the file.
- I focus my attention on the adjuster – Up untill the mediation, everything the adjuster has learned about your personal injury case has been filtered through the insurance company’s lawyer. Mediation is my golden opportunity to speak directly with the adjuster. Remember it is the adjuster who carries the check book – not the insurance company’s lawyer.
- How I handle weaknesses in your case – Every personal injury case has weaknesses. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be in litigation. I quickly get the weaknesses out of the way by admitting them. This shifts the discussion onto the strengths of your case. Too much time spent haggling over points that are going to be lost at the end of the day, anyway, weakens your case. Better to fight on terrain that benefits us.
- I don’t reveal your bottom line ever – not even to the mediator – As soon as the other side learns of your bottom line, you can guarantee that your case will settle for less than this amount. Your floor has been turned into a ceiling.
- Be prepared to ‘walk’ – Adjusters get great pleasure from drawing a line in the sand. If that line is below your bottom line, I terminate the mediation then and there. It is my experience that once the adjuster gets back to his/her office, a new higher offer is forthcoming.
- I do everything I can to get the adjuster to put their cards on the table – Sometimes the adjuster and the insurance company lawyer keep their cards too close to the chest in the presence of you, the client. Simple solution – I ask my client to ‘wait in the hall’. This can work magic. I learn more about the other side’s view of the case than I ever would have learned with you, the client, present. If your case does not settle, I am that much better prepared for trial.
So, those are the thoughts of a Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer.