Mediation is a settlement tool used in both civil and workers’ compensation cases. Mediation is a completely voluntary process. Both parties must agree in order to set up a mediation. In workers’ compensation cases mediations typically take a half day. Civil case mediations also typically take a half day but can be much longer depending on the complexity of the case.
In the litigation process, mediations happen after the initial discovery has taken place. Parties have had a chance to depose injured workers, plaintiffs, and defendants. Parties also have had a chance to extensively review medical records and obtain expert witness reports from doctors. Mediations can take place before or after settlement conferences. Settlement conferences are held before judges and in the Minnesota workers’ compensation system, the injured workers are typically not present but rather available by phone. Settlement conferences are also only an hour long and an hour may not be enough time to settle a complicated claim. Sometimes attorneys will cancel or forego the settlement conference in lieu of a mediation.
Before the mediation, your attorney will create a settlement demand. A settlement demand shows the insurance company their monetary exposure if you were to be successful in your claim at a formal hearing or a trial. All civil settlement demands are prospective, meaning they include the damages that you will suffer in the future. Most work comp settlement demands are prospective as well, but some settlement demands are “to-date” meaning some claims are left open. Typically, this happens in cases in which you are still employed with the date of injury employer.