The term “Mandatory Settlement Conference” isn’t one most individuals are familiar with. When you suffer a car accident in Charlotte, you can seek compensatory damages for your losses with help from a Charlotte car accident lawyer. In most cases, it is possible to recover the damages from the insurance company, either your own or that of the at-fault driver. However, insurance companies are not readily willing to settle all claims. So you may sometimes find that the insurer refuses to honor your claim and your recourse is a settlement conference.
This is when you have recourse to the legal process. You can file a case and take your claim to a court of law. You may want to have a judge start hearing your case right away but that is not how the legal procedure works. Instead, you and the party you are suing must come together at a settlement conference before a trial is held.
How Does A Settlement Conference work?
A settlement conference is mandatory as per the North Carolina General Statutes Section 7A-38.1. This section mandates that the disputing parties in a personal injury case must come together for mediation. The conference is a last-ditch option where the parties may reach an agreement. This is so that the matter is resolved before it goes to trial.
The mediation is mandated to encourage the plaintiffs and defendants in a personal injury case to come to an agreement. This is so that both sides can avoid the costs of a lengthy trial while also sparing the court’s time and efforts.
Although a mediation conference is a good place for you to settle your claim, you are not obliged to do so if the other side doesn’t offer good enough terms of settlement.
What Happens At a Settlement Conference?
The first requirement for a mediation conference is to choose a mediator. This is typically a trial attorney who is not involved in the case but is invited as a third-party. You must choose a mediator in agreement with the defendant. If both sides fail to agree on a single person, the court then appoints a mediator.
The date of the mediation conference is likewise determined by the court, often in consultation with both parties. When the appointed date arrives, you must go to the designated venue with your lawyer. The defendant is also required to be present along with their legal representation.
A general session first takes place. You and your lawyer present your claim, describing your losses and the liability of the other party. The other party then presents any defenses they have against your claim. Once the general session is over, the mediator separates both sides into two smaller rooms. Attempts are then made by the mediator to bring both parties to an agreement. If the amount of damages is in contention, the mediator tries to bridge the gap and help both sides come to an agreed-upon figure.
A mediator is typically a highly experienced attorney. So you can expect plenty of sound legal advice during a mediation conference. The attorney will tell you what to expect from the claim and what is likely to happen if the case goes to a trial. This may persuade you and the defendant to reach a fair settlement.
What Happens After the Mediation Conference?
One of two outcomes occurs after the conference – an agreement is reached by both sides, or no agreement is reached. If both sides agree on settlement terms, a formal agreement is immediately drafted and this brings the case to an end. The agreement is usually a compromise between both sides, with the mediator aiming for a win-win resolution of the matter.
However, if no agreement is reached, the case then proceeds to trial. As noted above, a mediator will give you a general idea about what to expect at the trial. So if your chances of winning the claim through trial are slim, it is best to try and resolve the claim at the mediation stage.
Hiring a Reliable Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered a car accident in Charlotte, NC, and want to have a mediation conference for a pre-trial settlement, you absolutely need a good lawyer by your side. Here at Ted Greve & Associates, our attorneys help you present your claim effectively, counter any objections, and make a forceful argument at a settlement conference. We also work with you to negotiate with the insurer directly for fair terms. Failing these, we stay with you through the trial process. Contact us today to discuss your case with our lawyers.