If you filed your workers’ compensation claim, you may have questions regarding the process. Many believe that once they file a claim for an injury sustained at work, all that is left to do is receive the benefits they need to move forward. However, workers’ compensation claims may be disputed. In these cases, claimants may need to take some extra steps.One of those steps is mediation. Workers’ compensation mediation is a voluntary part of the process and one that will only take place if both parties agree. Mediation is a way for both parties to resolve the claim without having to go to a hearing. When you attend mediation, it is beneficial for you to have your attorney present, as well. At KJT Law Group, we can have one of our attorneys assist you with workers’ compensation mediation and answer your questions.
Why Does Mediation Take Place?
Mediation takes place after an injured employee files their workers’ compensation claim. It often, but not always, is used after there is some sort of dispute with the claim. Even if you do not believe that there will be a dispute, mediation can be helpful in getting you the benefits you deserve.
Mediation is voluntary, and it can only occur when both parties agree to it. If your employer or their representative does not agree to mediation, you will not have the option of attending one.
What Happens During Mediation?
During mediation, a third-party mediator will work with all parties involved in the claim to try to get to a resolution. The goal of mediation is for both parties to walk out happy and with no further questions. With that, the mediator will be responsible for explaining offers from both sides and ensuring that everyone involved understands what is at stake.At the beginning of the mediation, all parties will be together as the mediator explains the circumstances of the injury and resulting claim. After that, the mediator may divide you and your representatives from your employers’ representatives. This way, all parties can speak freely with the mediator without the pressure of having the other side watching.
Who Attends Mediation?
How many people attend mediation depends on you and your employer. Generally, the attendees will include the following:
- Your attorney
- Your employer’s attorney
- A representative of your employer’s insurance company
- A mediator
Sometimes, your employer may elect to also be a part of the process. However, that is usually not the case. Additionally, you can bring family members or close friends to the mediation if you feel they would benefit you to have with you.
Who Is the Mediator?
The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) refers to its mediator as the Information and Assistance Officer. This party is not bound by normal trial rules and can ask any questions they believe will help them come to a successful mediation.
Generally, the mediator is someone with extensive workers’ compensation law experience. They must be a neutral party so they will not have a vested interest in either you or your employer.
The mediator’s goal is to quickly get both sides to reach the best deal for each of them based on state and federal laws.
You May Benefit From Having a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Fight for You
You may want to consider hiring a workers’ compensation attorney to represent you throughout mediation. They can advocate for you and work to ensure your best interests are front and center.
Additionally, preparation is key. On top of having an attorney by your side, it is very helpful if you come into the proceedings with everything already prepared. Make sure you speak with your attorney prior to mediation about any questions or concerns you may have regarding your case.
Be sure that you and your attorney are on the same page about what it is you want to receive in the form of workers’ compensation benefits. Your attorney should also know about all medical bills, medical history, paychecks lost due to missed work, the nature of your injury, and how it happened.
What If Mediation Does Not Work Out?
If both parties cannot come to an agreement in the mediation stage, then the process will continue into the hearing stage. This means that both parties will need to present their case before a judge, so it will take longer for you to receive your benefits.
If mediation does not work in your case, do not fret. It may delay the process, but ultimately, you will recover your workers’ compensation benefits if your injury did, in fact, take place at work.
Also, just because mediation did not work does not mean that you will have to appear before a judge. If the hearing date gets closer and one side or the other decides that they want to settle, they can. Mediation is not the only time for a settlement to take place.
Call KJT Law Group Today for Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Mediation
At KJT Law Group, our workers’ compensation attorneys are here to answer any questions you might have, as well as represent you should the need arise. We can help you prepare for mediation, strive to reach a settlement with your employer’s representative, and work to prevent you from going to the hearing stage. However, if attending a hearing is the only way to get you what you deserve, we are ready to fight on your behalf.If you plan to go through workers’ compensation mediation, contact us at (818) 507-8525 today. We offer free, no-obligation case reviews to all prospective clients and work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning we only receive a payment if you recover benefits.