Workers’ compensation is something you might need to survive financially after a work-related injury. It can help you pay your bills, cover your medical expenses and replace wages you lose while you recover from your injury.
Therefore, learning that your workers’ compensation claim has been denied can be a devastating blow, but you have the option to appeal the denial. You can do this by filing a claim petition within 3 years of the date of your injury or disability.
Once your claim petition is filed, your case is assigned to a workers’ compensation judge. You will receive a notice stating the judge assigned to your case and a hearing is scheduled.
Do I have to attend mediation?
However, the judge will first refer you to mediation. Mediation is required unless the judge determines that it will be futile, meaning there you are not likely to resolve the issue at mediation. Unless your case involves extreme circumstances, you are likely to receive a referral to mediation.
You can still choose to attend mediation even if you are not required to. There are many reasons you might want to consider mediation.
Mediation typically saves you time and money. It is more informal than having a hearing which can greatly reduce your stress and anxiety over the entire situation. It is also free.
What does a mediator do?
Mediation is a meeting between you, your employer and a mediator. You can have attorneys with you if you want.
The mediator listens to both of you present your arguments and offers suggestions and guidance on potential solutions. They do not take sides or make decisions but try to help both of you resolve the issue yourselves.
This is another advantage to mediation. People are often happier with the outcome since they feel like they had some control over it.
How is mediation different from a hearing?
A workers’ compensation hearing is more formal and feels more like a typical courtroom proceeding. At a hearing, you and your employer present testimony and evidence to the workers’ compensation judge assigned to your case and the judge decides.
Additionally, any testimony at a hearing becomes part of an official court record. Conversations at a mediation are confidential. Knowing this can make conversation flow more easily. It can also help preserve your relationship with your employer if you are hoping to go back to your job one day.
Judges generally prefer that parties resolve the cases themselves, so even if your initial mediation is not successful, you can always request it later.
This is a brief overview of mediation in a workers’ compensation case. You may be unsure if it is right for you, but it is usually worth a try.