Settlement/Mediation Days

I have had tremendous success at "settlement days", or what is sometimes called "mediation days." Generally, my success rate is 85-90% for any given settlement day. 

In this forum, a particular insurance company will set aside an entire day to attempt to resolve anywhere from ten (10) to twenty (20) cases. The plaintiffs in those cases may be represented by the same attorney or law firm. Other times, the plaintiffs may be represented by different attorneys or firms.

In any event, I will set aside an entire day to serve as the mediator to attempt to bring the parties together to reach a settlement. The parties will have supplied me with medical records and memoranda so that I become familiar with each case in advance of the mediation.

Participation and presence by all parties are certainly key to effectuating this process. The plaintiffs themselves accompany his/her counsel and are placed in one room. Defense counsel and a representative of the defendant, typically a claims adjuster or regional supervisor, are placed in another room.  If the proceedings are convened virtually through Zoom, then I simply assign the parties and counsel to a private "breakout room."

From there, I begin the process of determining the relative positions of the parties, along with the strengths and weaknesses of their positions. On occasion, I will ask to interact with the plaintiffs, perhaps even with the claims' adjuster/supervisor, so that the former can feel like they are part of the process and the latter can gain an informal appreciation of the plaintiff's claim, an appreciation which may not be ascertainable merely by reading a deposition transcript or summary from defense counsel. Actually, having everyone in the same vicinity (in person or through Zoom) is instrumental in what amounts to real-time negotiations; plaintiffs do not need to be called on the phone, and adjusters generally don't need to go "up the chain" to secure authority from a supervisor.

The obvious goal is to get the case settled for everyone. The plaintiffs and counsel want to receive closure and the compensation to which they believe they are entitled. At the same time, the insurance company can clear cases from its pending, often voluminous caseload.

Once the case settles, releases are typically on-site and are signed by the plaintiffs that day. This effectively saves days between settlement and receiving the settlement funds.

Similar to my latest practice in Non-Binding Mediations, and to the extent that any Settlement Days are conducted virtually through Zoom, I provide the parties with the opportunity to memorialize the settlement through an on the record recorded colloquy.  I simply outline the settlement agreement between the parties, secure that the terms of the settlement are fully agreed to, understood, and attested to by the parties and then I provide that video clip to the parties so that there is no confusion later as to the terms of the settlement.

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