Offices in Detroit, Grand Rapids & Traverse City. Call 248.644.0077

Personal Injury: Early Case Mediation

Issue

How did the family of a three-year-old girl, seeking compensation for injuries she sustained from a dog bite, utilize mediation to reach a settlement with the dog owner’s insurance company and avoid the high costs of discovery and prolonged litigation?

What Happened?

Two years before her family filed suit, the dog bit the girl in a scene witnessed by several onlookers.  The bite resulted in a scar, but without the need for reconstructive surgery. Efforts had been made to resolve the matter previously, and although both parties acknowledged that the case involved probable, if not clear, liability, the girl’s family and the dog owner’s insurance representative could not agree on the value of the case, prompting the family to seek damages in court. They did agree, however, to submit the case to mediation before engaging in extensive and costly discovery.

Special Considerations

  • The girl’s mother was reluctant to subject her daughter or herself to the stress and pressure of a deposition and possible trial.
  • The dog owner was willing to concede liability and sought to resolve the matter quickly; because he now lived out-of-state and had a job that required him to travel extensively in other parts of the country, he wanted to avoid the time and expense associated with his having to return to Michigan to attend court-ordered proceedings.

How Did PREMi Help?

Taking into account the concerns of the girl’s mother and the dog’s owner, the PREMi mediator:

  • Thoroughly reviewed written summaries, copies of medical records, and photographs of the girl’s scar prior to the mediation proceedings
  • Got the parties to agree that although the girl would attend the mediation with her mother, she would not be questioned, and would only appear to allow the dog owner’s insurance representative and the PREMi mediator to personally observe her scar
  • Met with the girl’s mother, her attorney, the insurance representative, and defense counsel in a joint session to identify the expectations and objectives of mediation and to outline the mediation process

What Was the Outcome?

The PREMI mediator worked to resolve the parties’ dispute by:

  • Giving everyone in attendance the opportunity to make short opening remarks, encouraging them to discuss why they wished to settle the case, then meeting with each party separately to discuss the strengths and weakness of both sides of the case
  • Keeping confidential the family’s initial settlement demand and subsequent offers and counteroffers until the numbers were close enough that the parties were willing to allow the PREMi mediator to disclose the state of negotiations to both sides – after which the case quickly settled
  • Getting the parties agree to a confidential settlement agreement,having them seek a consent judgment with the court in which the lawsuit had been filed, and executing releases and making payment within 30 days of the mediation conference

__________________

Disclaimer: This summary is illustrative of the types of cases and the manner in which the PREMI associate dealt with the matter. Care has been taken to avoid disclosure of sensitive or confidential information.