In Harris County Courts and in many courts across the state of Texas, mediation is mandatory.
This is because judges have many more cases than they can possibly try or dispose of in any one calendar year.
Even a short trial can take 2 to 3 days of the court’s time and lengthy trials will take months.
Why Mediation is Necessary
For that reason, many courts order the parties to mediation at some point prior to an actual jury or judge trial in an effort to reach a settlement and make the courts docket manageable.
In mediation, the parties usually select a mediator who is typically an ex-judge or an experienced practicing attorney. A court can also choose the mediator for the parties.
The person selected to be the mediator will be a neutral party, whose job is to try to facilitate a settlement to the case by getting the parties to agree on an outcome.
No one is required to settle their case at mediation and unless the other party enters the process with an intention not to settle, the odds are fairly good that some progress will be made even if the case is not in fact settled.
Personal injury plaintiffs are not required to answer questions or make statements at mediation, but they may do so if they choose.
Typically, the counsel for the plaintiff puts a presentation forward for the personal injury victim and also the defense attorneys representing various parties in the case.
Mediation can be a very productive event if the parties are open to listening to the other side’s position and points.
There are ALWAYS two sides to every story and sometimes persons injured in an accident have not really thought out the evidence that may be heard in the case.
Likewise, the insurance companies and adjusters are able to see the person making the claim in person and also to judge the ability and credibility of the attorneys and their clients.
Mediations are generally conducted over a day; however, multiparty cases can be of any length and can in fact, last several days. The cost of mediation is usually split by the parties and taxed as court costs to the case.
The case only settles in mediation if the parties reach an agreement, which is signed by the parties.
A mediator may not be called as a witness in the lawsuit.