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Should The Insurance Adjuster Be Present At the Mediation?

A mediation is a negotiating session, with both lawyers, the victim, and often the insurance adjuster, present to exchange offers and demands. The negotiations are supervised by a “mediator”, who acts as a middle man, to carry offers and demands from one side to the other.

Mediators like to have the insurance adjuster present. But it’s not always necessary.

Having the adjuster present can be very helpful when it’s apparent that the other side has the case grossly undervalued.

Why? Because mediators have credibility; if a mediator tells the adjuster that the case is worth $60,000, instead of the $10,000 which the adjuster had set aside to settle the case, the adjuster is more likely to believe the mediator than the attorney for the other side. A lot of cases settle because the adjuster has the opportunity to hear a “second voice” – the mediator’s – tell him what the case is worth.

On the other hand, a lot of defense lawyers have the full authority of their client to negotiate within a reasonable range. And if there aren’t any “problem issues” in the case – for instance, legitimate disputes about liability or whether a surgery was necessitated by the accident or by a pre-existing illness – chances are that a good attorney has discussed the case with his client, and has a clear grasp both of what a jury will do and of his own client’s view of the case.

And let’s face it, an adjuster isn’t going to fly in from the company’s office in Connecticut on a $12,000 lawsuit.

Sometimes, you know from the other side’s opening offer whether they have a reasonable view of a case. A couple years ago, I started negotiations in a Clermont County lawsuit by asking for $1.3 million. (I didn’t want to have a trial if the other side was willing to make a decent offer, for reasons particular to the case.)

The insurance company responded with an offer of $300,000.00, and said they’d mediate if the adjuster would not have to fly in for the mediation session. At this point, I realized (1) That even without the adjuster present at the mediation, we would get enough money to make my client happy and (2) If we didn’t mediate the case right away, there was a chance the insurance lawyers would find out some very important weaknesses in my case, and wind up offering less.

We had the mediation in Batavia with the adjuster attending by phone, and settled the case for $500,000.00.

On the other hand, I’ve seen some cases where the mediator had to spend a lot of time butting heads in a closed room with the adjuster before the insurance company would change its valuation.

I have been a lawyer over 30 years. If I have my druthers, I want the insurance adjuster to attend the mediation in person. If you’ve been injured in an accident, talk with an experienced Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer about the case. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.

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