6 Common Questions About Workers' Compensation Mediation
1) Is Mediation Necessary in a Workers' Compensation Claim?
A: Mediation is only necessary in a workers' comp case if a Petition for Benefits (PFB) form is filed. The injured employee needs to file a PFB if they are being denied some kind of benefit that would help compensate for the cost of their injury. A workers' comp attorney can file this paperwork, defend your interests at mediation, and help you get the benefits you need in order to recover from your on-the-job injury.
2) Do I Have to be Present at Mediation? I'm From Out-of-State and Don't Want to Fly or Drive in for a Meeting
A: According to the rules outlined on the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (JCC) website, you have to show good reason for not being present at the mediation. If you are from out of the area, you can be connected to the meeting by the telephone or a video conference on the Internet. These other means of communication must be approved by the mediator in advance of the meeting.
3) What Should I Bring to Mediation for My Workers' Comp Claim?
A: Your attorney will prepare you on what to bring and what to say in mediation well before the meeting takes place. It may be helpful to bring medical bills, prescription receipts, copies of paperwork filed with the state, and other documents to prove that your injury was work-related. These documents will be kept confidential as will the mediation's transcript.
4) What if I Don't Think the Mediator is Being Fair?
A: Mediation is designed to help parties reach a compromised solution to their issues. You do not need to accept the terms of any agreement if you and your attorney don't consider them fair. Additionally, any party in the mediation can request that the mediator be disqualified. The request must be submitted to the judge, include specific reasons for disqualification, and the name of a substitute mediator.
5) Can There be More than One Mediation?
A: At the end of mediation, the mediator prepares a report stating which issues have been resolved and which ones need further discussion. Mediation is an attempt for all of the issues to be resolved before going to a trial, but if they aren't, then taking the disagreement before a judge is the next step.
6) What if My Employer and I Reach a Compromise Before Mediation?
A: With the help of an attorney, it is possible that your employer and their insurance company will agree to your requests before mediation takes place. If this is the case, and you accept all terms of the agreement, all parties need to notify the mediator and judge in writing before the meeting. The JCC has the rules and procedures of a claim available on their website.