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May 17

The Personal Injury Law Suit What Is A Settlement Conference

If you have a personal injury law suit in Ottawa, Ontario or certain other jurisdictions in this province, you will have a settlement conference before there is a trial date set. The purpose of a settlement conference is to settle the case or narrow the contentious issues in the case. In a personal injury case, the issues are usually: who was responsible for the accident and what are injuries worth?

A case management judge or another court official called a case management master facilitates a discussion of the issues and reviews the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case.

The lawyers for the injured person and the injured person attends. The lawyer for the defence, usually hired by the insurance company, as well as a representative of the defence, usually a claims examiner or adjuster, will also be present.

Before the settlement conference is held, parties are required to complete all examinations for discovery, produce all of the required documents and complete any related motions.

Your lawyer will prepare a brief with a detailed outline of the evidence you will be leading at trial. This will include key passages from the transcripts from the examination for discovery, important medical records and expert reports. The brief will also identify the witnesses you intend to call at trial and what they will say at trial.

You will likely meet with your lawyer before the settlement conference to discuss your settlement position and any developments in the case that arise from the defense lawyer’s settlement conference brief.

Different judges run settlement conferences in different ways. Sometimes all the parties, lawyers and the judge will meet in a court room. The lawyers will make submissions and the judge will comment and then give an evaluation of the case.

In other cases, the judge will meet privately with the lawyers and go through the case and then come back into the courtroom to speak to the parties about his or her views.

A settlement conference may last one hour or it may last several, particularly if the parties are actively negotiating.

If a settlement is reached, the case will not proceed beyond the settlement conference.
If a settlement is not reached, the judge will discuss the expected length of the trial with the lawyers and a trial date will be set.

Although the parties will often be disappointed if the case does not settle, having a fixed trial date motivates the parties to continue to work toward settlement. It also provides a deadline for the resolution of the casethe trial date.