Professional Mediation Services For Lawyers Throughout Washington
In personal injury cases (and other cases) there are several “routes” one can take to get the best result. Typically, when a client finishes or comes close to finishing his/her treatment, the attorney will prepare what is called a demand letter to the insurance companies involved. This is an extensive letter that summarizes the incident/collision, the injuries and the impacts the event has had on the client and others. It also provides a narrative, or statement, as to the value the claim has, depending on the circumstances. The demand letter includes all of the client’s related medical expenses, wage loss documentation, out-of-pocket expenses, property damage, and the like.
Under the law, this letter and attached documentation is considered “protected” from disclosure by Evidentiary Rule 408. Simply put, it is an effort to describe all of your damages and harms, with the expectation that the insurance carriers will extend an offer of settlement. Most of my cases are resolved through this process which, if successful, shortens the process, minimizes the expenses involved, and reduces the stress of having to navigate your case through the system.
It is not uncommon for there to be a difference in opinion as to the value of any particular case. Negotiations may be successful, in part, but there can be a “gap” in what the parties think is a reasonable amount of compensation that should be paid: in many of these cases, mediation can be a successful way to reach an agreement on the settlement value of your case.
What You Should Know About The Process
Mediation is an entirely voluntary process. In other words, it requires that all parties to the mediation agree to mediate. They must also understand that if the process does not result in an agreement, one, or both, of the parties can simply “walk away” and continue the pursuit of their case through more traditional and formal means, such as a jury trial or arbitration hearing.
Frankly, mediation works best when both parties are familiar with the mediator involved. The attorney for the plaintiff (the person injured) and the defendant (the at-fault entity or person) are equally involved in the selection of the mediator. Historically, the mediator is an attorney with significant experience in personal injury matters, or a retired judge. Again, both parties must agree on the mediator involved.
It is important to note what the role of the mediator is, and is not. The mediator acts as a “neutral,” meaning that he or she does not have any bias or “hidden agenda or reason” to obtain a particular amount. The mediator acts as a facilitator between the parties and not as a decision maker, such as a judge or arbitrator. Some cases simply cannot be mediated for a variety of reasons, but most cases can, and should, be mediated.
The mediation process can take from a half day to a full day. If the case is particularly significant, due to the amounts involved or the difficult legal issues presented, the mediation can even carry over to a second day. Sometimes, it is best to simply walk away from the mediation due to a variety of factors. As a result of COVID, mediations are typically done via Zoom or other such platforms. Importantly, both sides will have their own private and secure room to discuss options and strategy. And, while there is an expense to attempting mediation, statistically there is an 80-90% chance of success or resolution, which can significantly reduce the expenses involved in going to trial or arbitration.
If an agreement is reached, all the parties sign a document called a “CR2A,” which is binding and enforceable. If such an agreement is obtained, the “case” is resolved in exchange for the payment of compensation within a period of days.
The mediator does not serve as an advocate or attorney for either party, therefore no attorney-client relationship is created. The parties, and their respective counsel, are solely responsible for any agreements that are reached. The mediator does attempt to get both parties and their counsel to reach an accord or agreement. It is important to remember that this is a voluntary process and that any party to the mediation can terminate the process at any time. Neither party is allowed to use the information exchanged if the case should move forward into a trial or arbitration. The mediator cannot be called as a witness to testify as to anything that takes place during the mediation process or be ordered (via subpoena) to divulge any documents or communications.
The expense of mediation is an obligation of the client and the attorney and is paid prior to the mediation session. The mediator’s expense includes his/her time in reviewing the materials prior to the date of the mediation, as well as time spent by the mediator following the session with the expectation that by doing so, the “gap” can be eliminated and the case resolved. The expense of the mediator can vary widely depending on the amount in controversy and the experience of the mediator involved.
Again, while there are no guarantees that the case can be resolved through this process, the likelihood that some resolution will occur is very high.
Currently, I charge $1,500 for a half-day mediation and $3,000 for a full-day session. Any additional time, post-session, will be chargeable at a rate of $450 per hour.
Bacetich Mediation Services operates under the corporate name of Dominic L Bacetich Inc PS. My tax identification number is #68-0557117.
If the parties agree to use my services, my office will send you an “Agreement to Mediate” letter to sign and return. I will also send a letter to both/all counsel suggesting that they inform me of the pertinent issues involved and any specific issues to be aware of going into the session. All communications in this regard will be strictly confidential unless, I am told otherwise.
Why Other Attorneys Choose Me
Washington attorneys call me for mediation services for their clients because:
- I have more than 40 years of experience: This experience helps me know how most disputes are likely to come out in court. This is a tremendous aid in bringing parties’ expectations in line with reality and prompting progress in negotiation.
- I have a long history of legal excellence in Washington: I was honored to be awarded the Carl Maxey Award, as well as the Readers’ Choice Award for “Best Attorney” by the Everett Daily Herald. I am also the former president of the Washington State Association for Justice. I have earned the trust and respect of the legal community throughout the state of Washington.
- Innovative strategies: The attorneys who hire me for mediation services appreciate how I discover and generate unique ways for the parties to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.
- A calm presence: One of the most important aspects of mediation is to remain a calm and unifying force for the parties involved.
Remote Mediation Options
I offer remote mediation options, as well as in-person options. For remote mediations, I can provide an excellent experience that includes:
- Breakout sessions: When multiple parties are involved in online videoconferencing sessions, I can easily set up “breakout” rooms, each with smaller groups to have sidebar discussions and internal strategy discussions.
- Document sharing: It is simple to exchange essential documents during remote sessions, as we would in face-to-face mediation.
- Easier scheduling: When we are mediating a dispute, we do not have to coordinate travel time, as each person involved and their counsel can log in from their homes.
Most people are surprised how smoothly and effectively I can mediate a dispute in online meetings. It really is a lot simpler and more effective than many people know.
Contact Me To See How I Can Help You
You want your mediation to go well for your clients. You want them to have a good experience and to come out feeling they got an equitable result they can stand behind. I can help.