Is Mediation a sign of weakness?
I’m a litigator and I’m also a mediator. I get it. Clients who believe in the value of their claim see mediation as a sign of weakness. If you’ve been seriously injured, accepting less than the “full” value of your claim is a concession you don’t want to make.
However, it also does not make sense to incur costs in litigation that reduce the paycheck you receive at the end of the day. Do the math and get the most $ in your pocket based on the probability of recovery.
But what is the “full value of your claim?”
This week, I attend a seminar in Scranton hosted by the Middle District of Pennsylvania Federal Bar Association for its mediators. The panel consisted of law professors from the University of Saskatchewan Law School and a Canadian Judge.
The Surprising Statistic
The one statistic I found significant:
61% of plaintiffs and 24% of defendants who reject settlement offers do worse at trial.
Don’t lose sight of these numbers:
Nearly two-thirds of injured plaintiffs reject offers that were better than the verdicts they received at trial. In other words, they would have put more money in their pocket through settlement negotiations rather than trial.
So what does this mean?
I’ll offer this. Many plaintiffs are not accurately valuing their cases. This may be a failure to consider historical data and the costs of actually trying a case. It may be that emotions cloud a client’s judgment.
There are times when a trial is the best option and the only option if you want a fair result. Deciding that question intelligently can only be done with the assistance of an experienced lawyer who knows the court where he is trying the case. Retaining an experienced mediator who can give an independent perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of your case is also invaluable in making an informed decision.
If valuing cases was a mathematical exercise, trials would be entirely unnecessary. Every case is a gamble. But doing your due diligence before walking into the courtroom is the best way to stack the odds in your favor.
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