Mediation has brought great changes to the practice of law in the field of serious personal injury and wrongful death. In Virginia, medication is not required by the court but can be agreed to by the parties, unlike other states like North Carolina (NC) where medication is mandatory. Mediation is where the parties get together in an informal setting with a neutral person, typically a retired judge, and discuss settlement of the case with an eye towards getting the matter resolved prior to a full jury trial.
This alternate resolution option has been around for some time, but not every law firm approaches it the same way that our firm does. We prepare for the mediation just as hard as we would for full jury trial. We come into the all day mediation with a state of the art audio-visual presentation that typically blows the insurance company and the defense attorney away. We show them that we are ready, willing and able to go to trial because the presentation that we do is very similar to what the other side will see inside the court if we go to jury verdict. Sometimes, particularly in wrongful death cases, we are able to bring everyone in the medication conference to tears understanding the huge loss and grief when a loved one has been killed in an accident. During just the past year we have successfully mediated cases including:
- A wrongful death at a railroad crossing where our client’s family member was hit by a train in his truck as his son in the vehicle following behind saw his father die before his eyes,
- A wrongful death case where the client’s husband was killed by a delivery truck driver who slid into him on a shoulder of the highway losing control of his vehicle,
- A medical malpractice case in which a doctor’s mistake killed a wife, a F.E.L.A. lawsuit in which a railroad conductor had post-traumatic stress disorder and two knee surgeries as a result of a collision between two trains, among other injury and wrongful death matters.
The common element in each of these was that we prepared hard to make the best presentation possible at mediation so that the other side was forced to do an honest evaluation of the strengths of our case.
Our team for putting on a strong show at the mediation includes a Virginia Beach audio-visual expert, Alan Michaelis, who helps us design and build the PowerPoint and video presentations. He is used by the top personal injury litigators in Virginia. He wrote an article for the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (the main organization for attorneys representing individuals in injury cases) describing what a terrific job my law partner Jim Lewis did in putting together a video of the family members in a wrongful death case and editing it down to a 30-minute film showing just how tragic the loss was to each of this person’s survivors including his widow and adult children.