Whenever I take on a new Chicago or Illinois personal injury case, one of the first things I tell my clients is that we will need to prepare the case all the way through for a jury trial. The nature of Illinois personal injury cases and Illinois medical negligence demands that the plaintiff be mentally prepared to stick with their case right up until the verdict.
But as most Chicago lawyers know, most clients ask the question: “Will this case be settled before trial?” And while I still insist that my clients’ focus be on obtaining a positive verdict, mediation is becoming more and more of a viable option. In fact, some Cook County courts and judges are ordering mediation for more serious injury cases.
Mediation is often looked to as a favorable alternative to trial because it is less expensive and less time consuming than working a case up all the way through a jury verdict. Mediation can be a positive option for most, but not all, cases.
Typically, at the beginning of the mediation process, both plaintiffs and defendants agree on a private, unbiased mediator whose role is to bring both parties to a just and reasonable settlement agreement. This neutral mediator is selected and agreed upon by both parties via a signed document.
Once the mediator is selected, a date is set for both parties to meet with their attorneys and the mediator. Each side prepares a mediation outline and booklet with the key facts and documents of the given case. These materials are submitted to the mediator in advance in order to acquaint the mediator with the nuances of the case.
Mediation sessions require all of the parties to be present. It is important in my practice to meet with the clients well in advance to acquaint them with the process and to alert them to any pitfalls that may arise during the mediation.
At the actual mediation, usually both parties present a brief oral summary of their cases with all parties present. However, for the remainder of the mediation the plaintiffs and defendants are typically separated and the mediator serves as a go-between as discussions are carried on back and forth.
In my own experience, many of these cases are resolved at a either the first or second mediation session. Yet, some cases are not resolved and go on to a jury trial, which is why I make it clear to my clients at all times that a jury trial is always an option for which we must be prepared.
Robert Kreisman of Kreisman Law Offices has been practicing Illinois personal injury law and Illinois medical negligence for over 30 years, serving clients in and around Cook County, including Morton Grove, Calumet City, Chicago, and Oak Park.
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