For decades, handling personal injury claims in Washington meant that attorneys had to argue with insurance adjusters and medical professionals, file a lawsuit at the local courthouse, and eventually, perhaps two or three years later, schedule a trial to battle the case in court. However, personal injury law in Washington has evolved, and many attorneys now turn to mediation as an efficient, more reasonable solution.
Even if some attorneys know that they have a great case, taking it to trial in Washington courts can be extremely risky. Some plaintiffs simply will not testify well at trial. Perhaps they cannot get past the anger they feel for the pain and suffering they have experienced and come off as harsh or abrasive to a jury. Some jurors may have had negative experiences with insurance companies, and will side with the plaintiff for that reason. Instead of leaving the fate of the case in the hands of the jury, many attorneys achieve better results with mediation, since they work with their clients to reach a settlement that the parties approve.
Another factor that many attorneys forget is that mediation provides more flexibility than a trial. During mediation, the parties may be creative in their solutions, and may be able to include more terms in an agreement than a trial judge would order.
Mediation also strengthens the attorney-client relationship. After a successful mediation, the client will have saved thousands of dollars and settled a case perhaps a year or two earlier than if the case had crawled through the court system. The client will be happier with the attorney because the client will have had a say in the settlement. Of course, happier clients mean repeat business and referrals in the future. In addition, settling cases earlier means the attorney has more time to generate other business.