Mediation is a form of pre-trial alternative dispute resolution (ADR) available in South Carolina personal injury cases. Although mediation is inherently less adversarial than a courtroom trial, both sides will want to get the most out of the process. But what does it mean to win at mediation?
For the injured party, winning means achieving the optimal settlement. Getting yourself into a winning position requires thorough preparation and a strategically intelligent approach. You will need to understand your case, arm yourself with solid evidence, and remain tactically flexible to get the results you deserve.
To Win at Mediation You Should Understand Your Case
The first step in a winning mediation approach is to understand your case as thoroughly as possible. An experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney can provide the necessary knowledge and insights to realistically assess your claim. They can:
- Identify your case’s strengths and weaknesses
- Determine a reasonable compensation range for your losses
- Assess further options if the mediation does not culminate in a settlement
Knowledge is power, and a seasoned personal injury lawyer can equip you with everything you need to know.
Bring Solid Evidence
Reaching an optimal personal injury mediation settlement requires evidence that the at-fault party’s negligence resulted in an accident that led to your injuries and losses. Some of the evidence that can help you establish these facts and improve your chances of maximum compensation include:
- Medical records demonstrating the nature and extent of your injuries
- Documentation of your medical bills, missed time at work, and property damage
- Photos, diagrams, and expert analysis of the accident scene to establish who was at fault
- Witness statements attesting to the accident, the causes of your injuries, and subjective losses such as pain and suffering
Any evidence you can bring to support and quantify your losses will give you a distinct advantage during negotiations.
Many injury victims overlook the fact that they must come across as credible. As first impressions are vital, you should ensure that your appearance and conduct are as professional as possible. You should also maintain concise and consistent explanations of your injuries and how they occurred. Moreover, remember that respectful interactions build trust. Personal injury claims can be emotional affairs, but keeping a cool head throughout the mediation process can get you much further than allowing your feelings to get the better of you.
Employ Strategic Negotiation
Employing strategic negotiation tactics is an essential aspect of achieving the most favorable settlement possible during mediation. Remind yourself of the following principles before and during the mediation process.
- Establish a high opening demand. This anchor point creates room for you to make small, calculated concessions downward while still reaching your goals.
- Only make those small concessions incrementally. Do not cave too quickly or easily to offers from the other side.
- Use private sessions with the mediator to confidentially test settlement options before stating numbers to your opponent in joint sessions.
- Know your minimum acceptable settlement amount to cover your needs and losses. This is your walk-away point.
- Be mentally prepared to end mediation without an agreement if the at-fault party will not rise to meet a number your lawyer feels is reasonable and fair based on the documented evidence.
Following these strategic principles allows you to uphold your own interests effectively.
While maintaining your core negotiation principles, it is also crucial to remain flexible. Remember to do the following:
- Listen carefully during joint sessions for any statements or concessions by the other side that signal points of agreement you can build upon.
- Consider creative solutions that adequately address your needs, like structured settlements or customized payment plans.
- Make trades between concessions where possible to maximize the total value of the settlement. For example, you can consider lowering your demands for pain and suffering damages in exchange for higher medical cost coverage.
Tactical flexibility shows you are negotiating in good faith and demonstrates your willingness to find common ground with the other side.
Win at Mediation with a Knowledgeable South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer
Winning at mediation requires appropriate preparation and strategic negotiation. While these principles seem obvious, they can be challenging to achieve if this is your first time going through the process. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you feel confident and prepared throughout mediation.
The legal team at Murphy Crantford Meehan has the knowledge and skills you need to keep from second-guessing yourself. Our lawyers will support and advocate for you throughout the process, we’ll handle the mediation for you, and we will fight for your rights. Contact us today at (843) 396-3840 for a free case evaluation with a member of our team.