The Workers’ Compensation Commission encourages injured workers and insurance companies to make an effort to resolve disputes in mediation prior to taking the issue to court. If your case is heading towards mediation, it’s important to know what to expect so there are no surprises. Here’s what you should know about workers’ compensation mediation:
The events that occur during mediation are completely confidential. The proceedings are not documented in any way, which is one of the reasons why many people prefer this resolution method.
Recommendations From the Mediator
Mediation involves three parties: the injured worker, insurance company, and a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who will listen to the arguments from both sides so he or she clearly understands the disputed issue. The mediator will use this information to come up with recommendations on how to resolve the dispute. However, the recommendations are not legally binding. The insurance company and injured worker do not need to follow these recommendations unless they both agree to do so by signing a formal settlement agreement. If an agreement is not signed in mediation, the dispute is not resolved and the case will move to court.
Mediation Can Take Hours
Mediation can last for hours, so do not expect to quickly walk in and walk out with a settlement. In fact, the law states that workers’ compensation mediators must block off a minimum of two hours for every mediation session. Remember, this is just the minimum time limit, so it’s possible that your session will last for longer than two hours.
Legal Representation is Not Required
There is no law that requires injured workers to hire an attorney prior to attending mediation for a workers’ compensation claim. But, hiring an attorney is strongly recommended. An attorney can present facts of your case in a clear and convincing manner so the mediator has the information he or she needs to understand your situation. Furthermore, an attorney can ensure you do not sign a settlement agreement during mediation that is not in your best interests. Although it is not required, it is important to have a lawyer by your side during mediation to ensure you reach a favorable outcome.
If you are applying for workers’ compensation benefits, contact Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. as soon as possible. Let our team of knowledgeable attorneys stand by your side and fight to secure the benefits you deserve. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.