The stages of a personal injury trial involves specific steps such as filing a claim, discovery, and filing pre-trial motions. Typically, the fourth step of a personal injury trial involves trying to settle the case. A settlement is a written agreement between parties to avoid a lawsuit in lieu of payment. A plaintiff receives a sum of money in exchange for not suing later.

What is a Settlement Conference?

A settlement conference is a formal meeting between a plaintiff and defendant in a lawsuit. The conference is an attempt to resolve the legal dispute without going to trial. The conference is similar to an alternative dispute resolution, or ADR.

What is a Judge-Hosted Settlement Conference?

A judge-hosted settlement conference is a settlement conference convened to resolve the legal dispute while in the presence of a judge. A judge magistrate could also preside over the conference.

Is a Judge-Hosted Settlement Conference Common?

No. The most common form a settlement conference is to talk outside the presence of a judge. Sometimes, the court may appoint a neutral party, such as a commissioner, to oversee the conference.

How Does a Judge-Hosted Settlement Conference Proceed?

The judge usually discusses the facts of the case and its merits. Each party makes settlement offers and the judge arranges those offers. It’s also the judge’s responsibility to comment of the validity and fairness of each offer.

Can the Judge Make Me Settle the Case?

No. The judge has no power to make parties settlement the case during a judge-hosted settlement conference. However, the judge can strongly encourage parties to work hard to find a solution.

Does the Federal Court Use these Types of Settlement Conferences?

Yes. They are routinely used in federal district court. The goal is to help open up communication between parties.

Should I Talk to a Lawyer About This Type of Conference?

Settlement conferences can be helpful in resolving a case. Contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more.