If you have an injury claim that is in litigation in Ontario, there is a good chance that your case will have a mediation. Cases filed in some Ontario courthouses, such as Toronto, Windsor and Ottawa, have mandatory mediation before the case can be set for pre-trial or trial. Whether mandatory or voluntary, the mediation process is an excellent opportunity for plaintiffs and their lawyers.
Simply put, a mediation is a settlement discussion between the parties and their representatives. A mediator participates in the process in order to facilitate and encourage meaningful discussions and pushing the parties toward a resolution of the case. The mediator will usually be a lawyer with experience and knowledge of the issues pertaining to your case. In personal injury cases, most mediators have experience as practicing lawyers in the field of personal injury litigation. This will help the mediator communicate with the lawyers about unique issues on liability or damages that may be applicable to the particular case. Mediators cannot force you to settle your case - the decisions is always up to the client.
Although mediators often talk about success and failure of the mediation on the basis of whether a settlement is achieved, I disagree with this view. For an injured person, success is not measured by whether the case settles at mediation - rather a successful mediation is one that achieves a fair result for the specific case. In my practice it is important for clients to understand that there can be a lot of benefit to a mediation even if settlement is not achieved at that time. When a case does not settle at mediation, the process can still be worthwhile. Preparing for and attending mediation brings issues in the case into focus and can help the parties narrow issues. The process can often help settle cases later, often for more money, or at least reduce issues for trial.
It is important to listen to the advice of your lawyer when mediating a case. In the end, however, the injured client will make the final decision on whether to settle or say no to the final offer at a mediation. While mediation can be stressful for an injured party, it is really an excellent opportunity and you should not be discouraged if the case does not settle at mediation. We have seen many cases not settle at mediation and end up with very successful results for our clients in the end. if you have an upcoming mediation, you should be pleased that your case is likely well on its way to resolving.
Andrew Iacobelli is an experienced personal injury lawyer who established Iacobelli Law Firm with offices located in Ontario, Canada as well as offices in Florida, U.S.A. Andrew restricts his practice to the representation of personal injury victims in claims involving serious injuries and wrongful death.