What is mediation in workers’ compensation?
Oftentimes I have people call me and ask me if they have to mediate their claim and what is a mediation anyway? Mediation is an informal meeting between the parties to determine if a settlement of the claim can be reached. It can be done at the State Board of Workers’ Compensation with a staff mediator or, sometimes, a private mediator is hired and it is done either at their office or one of the attorney’s offices. The parties gather in one room, the injured worker provides an informal “opening statement” if he or she wishes and then the insurance company responds. At that point, the parties split into separate rooms with the mediator going back and forth between the parties to present offers, demands, and counteroffers. A good mediator will thoroughly explain each party’s position and provide input as needed.
Settling Your Work Comp Claim
Again, you never are obligated to settle your claim. Therefore, you do not ever have to agree to mediation. However, it can frequently be helpful to get all parties “on the same page” and can expedite the settlement process as well as help the injured worker obtain some “closure.” On the other hand, many times an attorney will be able to resolve a claim informally with the adjuster or opposing counsel. Whether or not mediation is necessary is a question to ask your attorney. And I do not recommend ever agreeing to mediation or engaging in settlement negotiations without an attorney!