Preparing For Your Personal Injury Mediation
In Texas, most cases are required to go through mediation before they can proceed to trial. Some lawyers just tell their clients to show up, but I’m a strong believer in the idea that if you’re prepared for the mediation, you’ll be able to make much better decisions about your case. Here are some tips to prepare for your mediation.
1. Understand the mediation process.
To make the best decisions, you need to minimize your anxiety about the process. And one of the best ways to do that is to understand the process. I’ve already written a long article describing the process. You can read it here.
2. Dress appropriately.
In some cases, the first time you meet the insurance adjuster will be at the mediation. It is important to make a good first impression on the adjuster. The adjuster is the one who has the most input into how much the insurance company will offer (though adjusters need to get approval from their bosses), and a big part of that decision may be how the adjuster thinks you will be as a witness and whether the adjuster thinks a jury would like you.
Thus, it’s important that you dress appropriately. You should dress up as much as you are comfortable, but don’t over-dress. The key is to not be respectful while also being yourself. You will be more comfortable, and you will come off to the adjuster as more authentic if you don’t over-dress for the mediation. If you feel you’re dressing up in boots, jeans and a long sleeve shirt, then wear that. And if you dress up all the time and aren’t comfortable unless you’re in a suit, then feel free to wear a suit. As I said, just make sure you’re respectful, but comfortable.
With Covid, all of our mediations have been conducted via Zoom. That makes your dress a little less important than if we were meeting the adjuster in person, but it's still important to be dressed respectfully. Fair or not, the adjuster will be judging you by how you show up.
3. Talk to your lawyer about expectations.
I do not ever think it’s a good idea to go to a mediation with a hard and fast bottom line because you never know what you’ll learn during the process. On the other hand, it is a good idea to talk to your lawyer about where you might start the mediation and about reasonable expectations for a settlement range. This is a hard conversation to have, but it’s always better to have it earlier than during the mediation itself.
4. Make sure you’re prepared for the day.
It’s hard to explain. All you’re going to do is sit down all day (or half the day), but I can almost guarantee that by the end of the mediation, you will be exhausted. Mediation is an emotionally draining process. That’s why it’s so important to prepare yourself. Get a good night’s sleep the night before the mediation; have a good breakfast (and lunch for an afternoon mediation); make sure you’re mind is clear.
And perhaps most importantly here, if you are mediating in person and not via Zoom, bring something to do. Mediations are long, and there is a lot of sitting around time when the mediator is speaking to the other side. Bring something to do for this downtime. If you have a book, activity, or something else to keep your attention, the day will go quicker, and the process won’t be so mentally taxing. One big advantage of Zoom mediations is that you don't waste this time. You can spend the downtime at your house doing your chores or other work.
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