If you and your attorney are planning to take your Defense Base Act (DBA) case to court, you may receive an offer to attend a mediation session while you are waiting for your hearing to be scheduled. Mediation is a voluntary process that offers an opportunity to resolve your case quickly (and hopefully fairly) without the need for a trial. The two parties will present their cases in front of a neutral attorney called a mediator, and the parties’ attorneys will negotiate a settlement based on their knowledge of each other’s side of the story.
If your attorney has recommended that you attend mediation, there are a few things you can do to prepare for a Defense Base Act mediation session, including:
Do your homework.
You will need all of the evidence that you plan to use in your case during your mediation. The stronger your claim is, the more likely your attorney will be able to get maximum compensation for your injuries. Make sure you have provided your attorney with all of your relevant medical records, receipts, unpaid bills, correspondence between you and your employer, and requests for reimbursement.
You should discuss whether or not you should attend your mediation session (or whether you will be able to, if your injuries are severe). Mediation can last a few hours to a few days, depending on the complexities of your case. If you are unable to sit for long periods due to your injury or need to take frequent breaks, make sure your attorney is aware of these limitations.
Each party will explain his side of the case, and then listen to the opposing party’s story. It can be difficult to listen to an opposing argument that you disagree with. However, it is vital that you hear your employer’s (or insurer’s) reasons for denial with a cool head. You will be given a chance to tell your side of the story and present any evidence to refute what your employer is saying.
While a mediation is not a deposition, you may be asked a few questions. The important thing to remember is to always tell the truth. Even if you think your employer or insurance adjuster is lying, you are still required to tell the truth. If you are ever caught lying in a legal proceeding, a judge or jury will likely rule against you—and if mediation fails, your case will be taken to trial. Don’t lie!
Listen to your attorney.
Once both parties have presented their cases, each party will be sent to a separate room. The mediator will go back and forth between the rooms and explain the strengths and weaknesses of each case, delivering each party’s offer. These two numbers may be very far apart initially, but the mediator will work to negotiate a compromise based on the evidence. If negotiations reach a number that is acceptable to you, you may accept the offer; if not, your case will proceed to trial.
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