Differences Between Mediation and Settlement in a Boston Injury Case

There is far more than one way to resolve a legal dispute involving injuries. Mediation and settlement agreements are both possibilities, although they involve different approaches to the situation.

Mediation and settlements are generally voluntary processes, and neither is usually required as a matter of law. However, parties might be required to go through mediation if they agree to do so as part of a contract. Mediation is similar to settlement negotiations, and many of the same parties are involved. However, mediation is guided by a qualified mediator agreed upon by the parties. Mediation efforts are designed to end in a settlement between the parties, although a settlement is not required. If settlement talks or mediation breaks down, the details of those meetings are usually not disclosed to the courts and may not be used in your trial.

If you were injured in Boston, mediation or settlement negotiations might be a good way to get your damages covered. If not, our Massachusetts personal injury attorneys can represent you at a trial. For a free case review, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407.

When Mediation or a Settlement is Required in Boston Injury Cases

Settlements are voluntary agreements entered into by the parties outside of court. These private agreements are then made legally binding by the court. Settlements are very common in various civil cases, including injury cases, and our Wakefield personal injury lawyers can help you negotiate a good settlement.

Mediation is often voluntary but might be required under certain circumstances, usually as part of a contract. This is more common in cases where the plaintiff was injured at work, and their contract with their employer requires mediation before a lawsuit. For example, if you sign a contract to work a construction job, the contract might state that you must go through mediation as a first course of action if you are injured.

Even if you have to go through mediation, the outcome is not binding upon the parties unless they agree to the final decisions. Once a judge signs the mediation agreement, it becomes legally binding as a court-ordered judgment. Mediation is meant to be voluntary, and the parties are generally free to reject the outcome of mediation.

Parties Involved in Mediation and Settlements in Boston Injury Lawsuits

The people involved in settlements and mediations are often similar, but there are a few key differences. In a settlement, the only parties are those involved in the legal dispute and their attorneys. For example, if your neighbor injured you, the settlement would include yourself, your neighbor, and either side’s attorneys and insurance companies.

Witnesses might come up, but they are often absent during settlement negotiations and are not considered parties to the case. However, their potential testimony might be brought up in settlements as leverage for more compensation. Our Boston personal injury lawyers can help you through settlement negotiations and hopefully get your damages covered.

In mediation hearings, many of the same parties are present in addition to some others. You, the defendant, and everyone’s attorneys should be present in mediation hearings. Additionally, a qualified mediator is there to guide the hearing to a possible settlement. The mediator is not acting as a judge or attorney, but they often have significant legal experience, and many mediators were previously judges and lawyers.

Unlike judges, mediators are not there to sus out liability, negligence, or other issues that are normally the fulcrum of civil lawsuits. Instead, the mediator acts more as a guide for the parties and encourages them to resolve their dispute on terms they both agree on.

Depending on the situation, the defendant’s insurance adjustor might be present at mediation proceedings, usually because they are paying for damages on behalf of the defendant. This is common in injuries from car accidents where the parties have insurance to cover expenses.

Differences in Outcomes Between Mediation and Settlement in Boston in Injury Cases

Mediation and settlements might end in similar ways. A settlement is an agreement between the parties where certain damages are paid, and the lawsuit is ultimately dropped. Generally, the right to sue for the dispute is waived, and plaintiffs can take no further legal action against the defendant. It is important to make sure your settlement is adequate before finalizing anything, and you can talk to our Brockton personal injury lawyers about your potential settlement.

Mediation is similar in that the parties might come to a conclusion or agreement they both agree upon, which is finalized by a judge. However, the conclusion of mediation does not always mean the parties have reached an agreement. If both dispute resolution methods break down, a trial might be the next step.

While settlements and mediation can end similarly, the road to getting there differs. Settlement negotiations are often informal and only involve discussions between the parties. On the other hand, mediation is a bit more structured – although not as formal as a trial – and is guided by a third-party mediator.

How Mediation and Settlements Affect Trials in Boston Injury Lawsuits

Mediation and settlement agreements might affect your ability to pursue a trial. One important consideration is time. You must be careful of statutes of limitation. If mediation occurs, it should be completed as quickly as possible so that the statute of limitations regarding your injury does not expire.

According to Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 233, § 23C, the work of a mediator is exempt from disclosure in judicial or administrative proceedings regarding the parties and their dispute. This means that mediation records cannot be used in your civil lawsuit.

Often, defendants might make certain admissions in mediation that would be quite damning in the courtroom. However, these records cannot be disclosed to the court and may not be used as evidence. This also cuts the other way and might protect you if you make certain admissions or provide information that weakens your case.

Sometimes, the parties agree to settle after mediation, even though the mediator’s decision does not legally bind them. Other times, the parties disregard the mediator’s decision and reach a settlement based on their own terms or pursue a full trial. If that happens, the details of the mediation process or settlement talks are barred from coming up at a trial.

Call Our Boston Personal Injury Attorneys for Assistance Now

Injury cases can become heated, and mediation can be a helpful way to reach a resolution. If mediation or a settlement is not what you want, our Cambridge personal injury attorneys can assist you with a lawsuit and trial. For a free case review, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407.