Sometimes an alternate method is needed for both sides to consider the time, costs and frustration that can accompany a lingering claim. Mediation is one alternative to taking a case all the way through trial.
Lee Jay Berman, a mediator at PMA Dispute Resolution, offered tips on handling mediations during an interview at this year’s Combined Claims Conference held in Orange County, Calif.
Besides knowing the facts of the claim and the timeline, he noted the importance of pacing the negotiations during mediation.
“You’ve got, oftentimes, plaintiffs who are just anxious to get it done,” said Berman, who was also a panelist on the topic of developmental negotiation at the conference.
Plaintiffs want to know what they are going to get and want to make their decision, he said.
Adjusters should avoid rushing negotiations to please plaintiffs, but rather pace the negotiations to get to the settlement figure that is acceptable to all involved.
The seasoned mediator suggested adjusters remember that though claims may have similarities each claimant and attorney is different. In addition, adjusters should research the plaintiff attorney and evaluate whether the plaintiff’s demand is realistic.
“Every one of those people has got an agenda,” Berman said.
Berman said he was surprised that more adjusters don’t take the time to anticipate each side’s offers and demands in advance and project out to the very end of the negotiation.
“I think that most adjusters, within reason, know what their first couples of offers are going to be out of the gate,” he said.
According to Berman, adjusters should “figure out where the plaintiff should be paced in their dropping of their demand in order to get to the authority before you’ve used it up.”
Preparation is the key to a successful mediation.
“Preparing for the negotiation itself would really be helpful,” he said.
Listen to the entire interview.
Learn more ways to prepare for mediation: