In working to resolve cases in my client’s favor, I will sometimes engage in a formal mediation process. In this particular case, mediation led to a $350,000 settlement. Let me share some information about the case and the mediation process.
The Facts of a this Bronx Stairway Injury Case
A Bronx Home Health Aide arose to go to work one morning. As she walked down the stairs in her apartment building, she slipped, tripped and fell on some construction debris left on the stairs. The incident left the woman with a broken ankle that required surgery. The woman asked me to represent her in an effort to collect compensation for her injuries. We investigated the incident and built upon a strong case. We presented a Settlement Proposal to the defendant and participated in a mediation. After the mediation, we settled the case for $350,000. The settlement enabled the woman to relocate her family to Florida.
Proving Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case in the Bronx
To prove negligence, we needed to show that the landlord either caused the condition that injured my client or show that the landlord had prior knowledge of the condition and an opportunity to either remove the hazard or warn tenants of the problem. In this case, we traced the debris on the stairway to construction conducted by the landlord in the building. Our interviews with our client and other tenants also found that many tenants had complained about the debris. And we found tenants with photos of the debris and one woman who had taken a video of the aftermath from my client’s fall. This evidence helped us build a strong case to prove that the landlord defendant had both created the hazardous condition and had extensive warning about the hazard.
Settling a Case through Mediation
In my practice, after I complete my investigation, I present a Fact Sheet to my clients to review the fact pattern in a case. After my client’s medical condition stabilizes and I collect all the medical records, I prepare a detailed Case Assessment that examines liability and damages and determines the current value of the case. I review that document with my client and with their approval, I present a Settlement Proposal to the defense. Many attorneys simply submit a number as a settlement proposal, but I present a full package including a summary of the facts of the case, an analysis of liability and damages and all the supporting evidence. Doing so provides the defense with the information they need to assess the case and frames the case in the best light for my client. This approach yields a high rate of early settlements for my clients.
In some cases, defendants prefer to take a case to mediation or arbitration. This can be particularly true in higher value cases. I usually try to resolve the case before waiting for a mediation or arbitration, but many adjusters like the cover that mediation affords them. If questioned by a superior about a large settlement, they can say, “That’s what the mediator suggested” or “That’s what the arbitrator determined.”
A mediation and arbitration operate the same except an arbitration is binding and a mediation is not. The keys to success lie in preparing well, preparing as if preparing for a full trial, and selecting the right mediator. It is important to know the mediators and arbitrators to make sure that you can avoid picking one who tends to favor defendants. My experience and contacts in the field enable me to know many of the leading mediators.
A mediation usually begins with each side presenting the basic outline of their case. There are no witnesses; often the defendant and plaintiff are not present. The mediator will meet with each side individually and then try to mediate the case either by bringing the two parties together for joint conversation or shuttling back and forth between both parties.
In this case, my client did not attend the mediation, but we had carefully reviewed the case and my assessment in advance and had an agreed upon value of the case. I was able to negotiate an offer that exceeded my client’s expectations which made accepting the offer easy to do.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a slip and fall or a stairway accident or if you have been injured due to another’s negligence, you may want to consult a New York personal injury attorney experienced with slip and fall cases. I would be glad to answer your questions and assist you. The consultation is always free. You can call me at 1-800-660-1466 or email me. You can also visit my website or read more on my blog, New York Law Thoughts.
Carol L. Schlitt
New York Personal Injury Attorney
This material is intended for informational uses only. It is not meant as legal advice. To receive legal advice, you should consult an attorney. Remember, past results do not guarantee similar outcomes in the future.
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