The road to getting workers’ compensation benefits can be rocky at times. You may initially be denied benefits, or it is possible that you are already receiving benefits but have been told they will be modified or ended. If you disagree with these decisions, you can follow the state’s dispute resolution process which may include mediation.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution process. This means the parties to mediation will attempt to settle their dispute themselves. In workers’ compensation disputes, mediation can be used at any time during the dispute resolution process as a way for the parties to come together to work out an agreement moving forward.
For workers’ compensation disputes, mediation is held virtually. If mediation is sought or ordered, it is mandatory for the employee and the adjuster to attend the mediation session. Many employees find that they want to be represented by an attorney throughout the dispute resolution process, including in mediation.
In mediation, the parties will sit down with a mediation judge to work out a resolution to their dispute. The mediation judge does not take sides. The mediation judge’s role is to help each party communicate their needs, wants and concerns, with the goal of reaching a resolution that both parties are satisfied with.
Prior to the date of mediation, both parties must provide the mediation judge with a mediation memorandum. The mediation memorandum covers each side’s position heading into mediation, including any unresolved medical and legal concerns and an overview of any previous negotiations between the parties.
Mediation can be a good way to resolve a dispute
Mediation can be a good way to resolve a dispute proactively, bypassing a conference or a hearing. At any point, the parties to a dispute can request mediation if they are close to reaching an agreement. Workers’ compensation attorneys can be a good resource for those who are unfamiliar with the workers’ compensation system and what they can do if they are being denied benefits.