Liens

One of the biggest obstacles in mediation of personal injury cases is the presence of medical and other liens. These can be health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, workers’ compensation, insurance med pay and PIP, to name a few. Talking to the lien holders in advance can be critical to getting a case settled in mediation. Sometimes cases go out unresolved that would have been settled if the attorneys had contacted lien holders in advance and determined what they could settle for, or at least had someone available by phone at the mediation. Often these cases can be resolved with follow up phone calls, but court mediators do not always perform this service, and are under no obligation to do so. The private mediator will assist with this but may have to charge for his or her time. Continue reading

Trust

A recent case I was involved in as mediator bears scrutiny and reveals an important point about mediation in general.

Two parties in a personal injury case wanted to mediate with a private mediator. Going into the mediation both sides took reasonable positions, and resolution seemed like it was going to be easy. Continue reading

Talking about medical negligence in mediation

As in so many other areas, the language we use in medical negligence cases can either help or harm the mediation process. Words should be chosen in such a way as to facilitate and build trust rather than to antagonize and foster an unnecessarily adversarial approach.

First, doctors are generally people who enter a profession to help others and save lives. They are highly educated and trained through years of working and studying very long hours. They often have to decide between imperfect choices in caring for sick patients, without knowing in advance the outcome. Like anyone, of course, doctors can make mistakes or errors in judgment. Continue reading