Apr 9, 2021
The Case for Mediating Wrongful-Death Actions
[Published in Advocate, April 2021, the Journal of Consumer Attorneys’ Associations for Southern California]
Why Mediation Can Make More Sense in Wrongful-Death Cases, and How to Best Prepare Your Clients
Experiencing the death of a loved one is truly the only thing that is both universal and inevitable in our lives, and, most likely, the worst thing that any of us will ever experience.
I contacted many former judicial colleagues and attorneys when I prepared to write this article. Most expressed the following sentiment: “Mediating wrongful-death cases is like any other case, but they’re more emotional.”
Lawyers know the good reasons for settling a case: It gives your client immediate certainty, control over the outcome, and finality. All were important factors in “normal” circumstances, before the civil courts were backlogged due to pandemic-related closures, and lawyers could count on jury trials proceeding on their set date.
In 2020, so many Americans – potential jurors – have experienced deaths of family members, friends, and co-workers directly due to the COVID-19 virus, or from the pandemic closures (e.g. delayed cancer diagnoses, lack of treatment for pre-existing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, drug overdoses, suicides) that death is now something we think about every day. This shift in perspective by so many among us is another compelling reason to mediate a wrongful-death case.