My last blog was about ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), such as mediation and arbitration, which is, to a certain extent, replacing jury trials as a way to resolve personal injury lawsuits in Syracuse, Central New York, and, in fact, just about everywhere else. Here's a recent example of how ADR works from my own case load.
I am scheduled to try a Syracuse fall-from-scaffold lawsuit in about 3 weeks. Meanwhile, the defendant's insurance carrier has invited me to try to settle the case through "mediation" first. After I explained how this works, my client agreed to it, and we will be at the mediation table in about a week. If we don't settle at the mediation, I will have only a few weeks to prepare my trial, which is not enough time. I really need 6 weeks! So I am already preparing my exhibits, my direct examinations, my cross-examinations, etc., in case I need to try this Syracuse construction accident lawsuit.
The case may or may not settle at mediation. Much of that depends on how reasonable the insurance carrier will be. If the case settles in mediation, I won't feel bad about having spent so much time preparing for trial. I always learn by preparing for trial. It makes me a better lawyer.
In preparing to try this case, I have become a kind of "expert" on lumbar (lower back) injuries, which is what my client suffered when he fell from a scaffold at work and landed on his feet. I have even ordered large "blowups" of my client's x-rays and MRI's so his doctors can vividly explain his injuries to the jury. I have also hired a medical illustrator to create illustrations of the surgery my client endured as a result of his accident.
Even if I don't try this case, the medical knowledge I gained in preparing for trial will help me in other cases, since lumbar spine injuries are very common injuries in falls from scaffolds cases, car accident cases, and other types of traumatic injury cases.
My father always said, "there is no such thing as useless knowledge". As usual, he was right.