HomeFAQsMaritime Injury ClaimsWhat Is A Mediation vs. A Settlement vs. Going to Trial?

What Is A Mediation vs. A Settlement vs. Going to Trial?

What is the difference between a mediation, a settlement, and going to trial?  Let’s explore how those terms apply to a Maritime or Jones Act case.

  • Mediation-a voluntary meeting between the injured worker (their attorney) and the company in an effort to negotiate a settlement out of court. A third, unbiased mediator is present to moderate the process.
  • Settlement– a voluntary agreement between all parties to settle the case for a certain sum.
  • Trial– if mediation fails and no settlement is reached, the cases will go to court in front of a judge or jury.

What is a Mediation?

A mediation is a meeting between the injured seaman and the employer during which they voluntarily try to resolve the claim without the assistance of the court.

A mediator will be present to help keep the process going. Both sides agree on a mediator who is typically a retired attorney or judge who is hired by both sides to remain neutral during the mediation. The mediator does not have any financial interest in the outcome of the case and he is paid whether your case settles or not.

Jones Act Mediation, business people at a table

The meeting begins with the injured worker (plaintiff) stating his/her needs – what he/she requires to settle the case.  The company (defendant) will generally offer far less than what the plaintiff requests and a negotiation process begins.  The negotiation continues until a number is reached that is acceptable to all parties. Both parties will have their attorneys present during the mediation. Most often the attorneys do most of the talking during the mediation, and a short summary of the case is usually made by both attorneys at the start of the mediation.

Generally, mediation will last a full day; however, it can be as short as a half day, or as long as two days in serious cases.

All discussions and activities during the mediation are typically confidential and will not be discussed or revealed during any later court proceedings. The amount that you demand to settle your case during a mediation, as well as the amount that your company may offer to pay you for your claim during the mediation, are confidential amounts. If your case does not settle during the mediation, typically these amounts will never be discussed in front of the jury. However, usually, your trial judge will be informed that the case was mediated and typically the judge is advised as to the outcome of the mediation.

At The Young Firm, we encourage all of our clients to attempt mediation before actually going to trial whenever possible.  Here’s why:

  • It’s important to find out how much the defendant is willing to pay and, if it is enough, you can often resolve the case through mediation.
  • You do not want to be in a trial situation without ever knowing how much the defendant would have offered to settle.

What is a Settlement?

A settlement is a voluntary resolution between the defendant (employer, maritime company, etc.) and an injured seaman. 

The settlement can occur at any point during your case, and usually, it isn’t court-ordered.  Additionally, a settlement is not generally on the record in court.   Settlements are completed by writing letters that are signed by the attorneys on both sides, committing each party to a settlement.  When a Jones Act case is settled, the money is usually paid 30 days from the date of the agreement.

What Does it Mean to Go to Trial?

If mediations fail and the parties are unable to reach a settlement, often a case will go to trial (or court) before a judge or jury.

They will determine how much you will receive for your injuries. As mentioned above, the judge and jury generally will not know how much money was offered during a mediation.

If the jury comes back with less money than was discussed in a settlement meeting, you cannot go back and settle the case out of court.  Once you have begun a trial process, any and all settlement offers made in the past no longer apply.

Contact The Young Firm today with any questions you might have about your case and how to settle it.  Our attorneys are here to address any concern or question you have.

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