What is a Mandatory Settlement Conference in North Carolina Personal Injury Cases?

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: ” Is a tractor-trailer accident the same as an automobile accident?”


If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligent conduct in Charlotte or other parts of North Carolina, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses and damages.

conference-room-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Personal-Injury-Lawyer--300x200Usually, the injured party will file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company to recover damages. However, many insurers may not offer what the injured party would consider a fair amount of compensation.

In that case, taking your personal injury case to trial may be the only option to get compensated for your losses fairly. However, under North Carolina law, a prospective plaintiff must first attend a “mandatory settlement conference” before the trial.


What is a Mandatory Settlement Conference?

As its name implies, a mandatory settlement conference is a proceeding conducted between the prospective plaintiff and defendant in private in an attempt to reach a settlement agreement. A settlement conference is mandatory under N.C.G.S. § 7A-38.1.

The parties must attend the conference and attempt to resolve the dispute with the help of a neutral, third-party mediator before their case can proceed to trial.

If the parties are not able to reach a mutually acceptable agreement and settle the claim, the injured party will be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to resolve the dispute before a judge.


What Happens at the Settlement Conference?

Before scheduling a mandatory settlement conference, the parties are required to choose a neutral mediator. Each party should be satisfied with the choice of a third-party mediator before agreeing to the date of the first conference.

The date of the mandatory settlement conference will be determined by a judge. On the scheduled date, the parties must attend the mediation conference with their personal injury attorneys.

When the conference begins and everyone is in the same room, the mediator will explain how the mediation works. Then, each party will have an opportunity to present their opening statements. The process then moves to separate rooms — the plaintiff and their attorney will be in one room, and the defendant with their attorney in the other.

The mediator will be moving between rooms conducting “shuttle diplomacy” until the parties work out a mutually acceptable settlement or until the parties leave the conference with no agreement.


What Happens After the Mandatory Settlement Conference?

There are two possible outcomes from the settlement conference:

  • The parties successfully reach an agreement and settle the personal injury claim; or
  • The parties do not reach an agreement.

In the former scenario, the mediator and attorneys will draft a formal settlement agreement. In the latter scenario, the personal injury case will proceed to trial. If the parties were able to obtain a partial settlement agreement, they might go to court to resolve the remaining issues.

It is best to consult with a North Carolina personal injury attorney to determine the likelihood of winning your case in court. If your chances of winning are slim, your lawyer may advise you to accept the opposing party’s settlement offer.

Schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to help you prepare your personal injury case for the mandatory settlement conference in North Carolina. Call (704) 370-2828 to receive a video or phone consultation with our lawyers to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.







The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.






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