What is Mediation in a Jones Act Case?
Many injured seamen are worried about appearing in court as part of their Jones Act injury case. While appearing in court may be necessary to your claim, the majority of these cases are settled out of court, particularly if the parties enter mediation.
However, you need to realize that it is the specter of your lawyer being able to go to court and deliver a big verdict against the vessel/ employer is what is going to get your case settled. This is why you need to hire a lawyer that knows how to go to court.
Simply put, mediation is a meeting between you (the injured seaman) and your employer with a third party (the mediator) on hand to help the negotiation process along. The mediator is usually an attorney with maritime law experience, and can offer insight to help the two parties resolve their claim without going to court.
A typical Jones Act mediation will include:
- A mediator. Both you and your employer must agree on the choice of mediator. Although a mediator may be an attorney, he or she does not represent either party; he or she remains neutral during the meeting.
- Legal advisors. Both parties may choose to have their attorneys present at mediation. Each attorney will begin by giving a short summary of the case from his or her client’s point of view to clarify the details of the case.
- Negotiation. Mediation begins with the injured seaman (or his attorney) stating how much is needed to recover from injury, pay past medical bills, and reimburse the seaman for future loss of income. The employer will then make an offer, usually much less than the amount requested. From this point, the attorneys and mediator will negotiate back and forth until a settlement can be agreed upon by all parties.
- Confidentiality agreements. If you and your employer are able to reach a settlement agreement, the discussions, activities, and amount of settlement reached during mediation will remain confidential.
It is generally preferable to attempt mediation before going to trial, for a number of reasons. First, mediation is often much faster, taking a day or a few days instead of many weeks of court sessions. Secondly, it will give you and your attorney a chance to measure up how your case will play out in court. Finally, mediation will let you know exactly how much your employer is willing to pay to settle your claim before he is ordered to do so by a judge.
What If a Settlement Cannot Be Reached in Mediation?
In many cases, mediation will lead to a fair resolution and a settlement offer. However, if mediation fails, your case may have to go to trial before a judge or jury in order to get fair compensation. It is vital that you learn as much about your case as possible before taking your case to court! Feel free to use the information on this website to gather the tools you need to get fair payment from your employer.
Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation.