A personal injury lawsuit is simply a legal action, brought in court, by someone who has been injured (either physically or emotionally) by another person, usually by way of an accident, fall, or product malfunction. There are many phases to a personal injury lawsuit, and it’s often difficult to predict how long it will take to resolve a case.
Personal injury claims start by the filing of a complaint against a person, persons, or legal entity such as a corporation. Once the complaint has been filed and served, an answer is filed on behalf of the alleged responsible party. This is merely the beginning of a long involved process known as discovery; depositions, interrogatories, motions, and preliminary proceedings are all part of the ongoing process which can consume a significant amount of time and expense for all parties.
It is beneficial to engage in the mediation process as soon as it is practical to do so. More often than not, a defendant in a personal injury claim is provided representation by an insurer. If a case is not factually complicated, mediation provides an early opportunity to save time and money. Trials present their own potential problems. In a case involving significant injury and/or legal issues, there will be many potential issues for appeal. If a party is disappointed by the verdict and if the claim is large enough, an appeal is almost always a certainty; again, time and expense.
Personal injury is distinct from other areas of mediation. In these cases, the plaintiffs and defendants are usually represented by experienced attorneys. There is not the same emotional component that you would find in a divorce matter. In personal injury cases it is a matter of money and how much. This is where a mediator with large case trial experience and dealing with attorneys and insurers can expedite a settlement which saves both sides time and money and avoids the prospect of long term involvement in the legal process.