As we continue to experience the impact of COVID-19, it is hard to ignore how it has affected almost every aspect of our daily lives and our society as a whole. We have all been forced to find creative ways to conduct business as usual. In our space, that means finding new ways to get cases settled. As we approach “settlement season,” let’s look at some solutions that have proven to be effective during normal times. We’ll explore some ways that technology can bring the parties together to better facilitate settlements.
There has never been a more productive time to just pick up the phone and call plaintiff attorneys directly to discuss settlements of their open cases. With millions of Americans out of work and struggling financially, and court dockets severely backlogged, the opportunity to resolve cases has increased significantly. So is the resolution rate for cases that are in pre-suit status or well-established litigation mode.
However, you might not always find common ground through direct communication with plaintiff attorneys. If you need assistance from a mediator, you can use Zoom or other video platforms to create the closest thing to face-to-face negotiations without being physically in the same room. Most mediation firms have become quite proficient at hosting mediations using video technology and managing the logistics of virtual mediations. Much like in-person sessions, the parties can begin with opening remarks in a general session and then break out into as many separate topic-specific Zoom rooms as needed.
Just like in-person mediations, virtual meetings require preparation to make the most of the opportunities. Here are some steps that will significantly increase the likelihood of success with virtual negotiations:
#1 Obtain all medical reports to evaluate the injuries and obtain Rated Ages from the life insurance marketplace to maximize the impact of a structured settlement. Rated ages can ether increase the benefits to the claimant, or decrease the costs to provide them. They can be used in many creative ways during negotiations.
#2 Research the case particulars with the defense team to gain as much insight into the claimant’s unique needs as possible. This will ensure the most meaningful proposals. Preparation may include discussions, review of expert reports, depositions and medical histories. Addressing financial hot-button issues (such as medical and economic loss, mortgages, college funding, retirement, etc.) in the offers will increase the direct involvement of the claimants, instead of leaving the negotiations solely up to their counsel.
#3 Evaluate all the economic reports and life care plans from both plaintiff and defense experts. Determine their current market cost to establish a floor and a ceiling to evaluate the overall exposure. Both Rated Ages and ChronovoCare (a new, no-cost discount card for prescriptions, medical devices, attendant care and surgeries) can be used to help evaluate the true costs of these critical exposures.
#4 Anticipate the appropriate time to offer a structure during the negotiations. It is most effective to present a benefit that satisfies hard economic demands so you can take off boardable economic numbers one-by-one until you are left with only non-economic numbers to negotiate (the largest usually being attorney fees, pain & suffering and loss of consortium).
#5 Request that the mediator use the share-screen feature to present structures directly to plaintiffs. Our team has the expertise and experience to fully explain the financial and emotional advantages that structured annuities provide. We can inform about the various pitfalls of rapid dissipation of funds from lump sum settlements, and we can answer questions and objections. Most importantly, this gives us the opportunity to solicit valuable feedback so we can customize our offer in the next rounds of negotiations.
One thing to remember during any mediation: offering structured settlements consistently throughout the process enhances the utilization of all of its tools and advantages. Every aspect can be personalized to address specific needs, involve the claimant in decision-making and lift the negotiate to include life-enhancing, non-cash factors. We see the impact when we present our Chronograph™ proposals, which provide a wealth of information to clarify and inform the parties on the offer. Chronograph shows costs, guaranteed and expected values for all of the cash, as well as annuitized benefits, all to support informed decisions.
Virtual mediations are an excellent way to engage the other side in meaningful discussions and settlements. We invite you to work with us and use our powerful tools to achieve the best outcomes.
Learn more about ChronovoCare.