On Wednesday, I went to mediation for my lawsuit about my accident. The judge said that we we had to at least try mediation before the case went to trial (the trial date was set for September). Mediation is different than arbitration in that the mediator has no power to enforce an agreement. The mediator can help the two sides reach and agreement but either side can walk away at any time.
Since I had never done mediation before, I had no idea what to expect. So far Coca Cola seemed to be doing everything they could to delay case. I didn't know if they would be negotiating in good faith, or just showing up because they had to. We met at a mediation company downtown. There were me and my lawyer, Coke's representative and their lawyer, and the mediator. We started out in one room where each lawyer explained their case. After that, the Coke people went to a different room and the mediator went back and forth talking to each of us.
The negotiations were based not on the facts of the case, but on what a jury might believe. For example, I think that the evidence and witness show that the Coke driver did not have a left turn arrow like he claimed he did. But Coke's lawyer would try to convince a jury that he did. People on the jury might have a bias against cyclists. The accident took place in St. Louis County so that might mean the jury is stingier than one in St. Louis City. Coke wanted to keep there name off the lawsuit because a jury would give more money in a lawsuit against a corporation that they would in a lawsuit against John Smith.
After about four hours we came to an agreement. People have asked me if I think that it's fair. I tell them that fair has nothing to do with it. I didn't get what I think I deserved, I got what I could get. If the case went to trial, there is the possibility that I would get nothing.
There is one thing left to be negotiated. Anheuser-Busch still gets a chunk of money for the medical payments that they made. I have no problem with that, we just want them to pay a share of the attorney's fees. My lawyer is still talking to the subrogation company to work something out. That will affect the amount of money that I get.