What is Workers’ Comp Mediation
What is Workers’ Compensation Mediation?
If you’re injured on the job in Pennsylvania, your workers’ comp lawyer will discuss with you the role a workers’ compensation mediation plays in your litigation process. Even if you are familiar with the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation mediation process, you might not understand how the settlement conference affects your claim, or the compensation you need for your injuries. Learning the basics of a workers’ comp mediation beforehand can give you the advantage you need, so you can obtain the outcome you want.
Your workman’s comp attorney will prepare you for your mediation conference and answer any questions you may have ahead of time. However, the following information will guide you through a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation mediation from beginning to end, giving you an expert’s view on the proceeding. You’ll learn about the attendees at a workers’ comp settlement mediation, how to prepare for a settlement conference, what happens afterward, and everything in between.
If you’re an injured worker in Pennsylvania who is currently in litigation, the Workers’ Compensation Act requires you to participate in mandatory mediation. The process is a cost-effective alternative to dispute resolution that can result in a quick settlement, granting you the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering. Knowing what to do at a Pennsylvania workers’ comp mediation conference could be your key to coming out on top.
Mandatory Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Mediation
As the name suggests, a workers’ compensation mediation is an informal meeting where all parties come together to discuss your case. The meeting is held in neutral territory, or what is known as a Pennsylvania workers’ comp hearing location, and heard by an unbiased, third-party mediator. In most cases, the mediator will be a workman’s comp judge from the Commonwealth, though not the one assigned to your case.
The goal of a workers’ compensation mediation is to settle the dispute in as amicable, cost-effective, and efficient a way as possible. For example, if you are a Pennsylvania employee who is injured on the job and now unable to work, you should file a workers’ compensation claim. On paper, filing such a claim is a quick and easy way to receive the money you deserve for medical bills and lost wages. But many employers, along with their insurance companies, will try to dispute your claim in an attempt not to pay you.
In such situations, you’ll need an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to fight for you. For many years, the process allowed for voluntary mediation, but in 2006 Pennsylvania amended the Workers’ Compensation Act to force disputing parties into mandatory workman’s comp mediation as a first step. As your personal injury attorney will explain to you, the goal is to either reach a settlement that both sides find fair or narrow the scope of the disagreement.
Who Are the Parties Involved in a Workers’ Comp Mediation in Pennsylvania?
Today, more and more people prefer mediation for all types of disputes, as it is an effective way for parties to reach an agreement without having to go through a lengthy court process. However, Pennsylvania requires mandatory workers’ compensation mediation for all workman’s comp disputes. Even though the procedure is mandatory, it is still beneficial for you as an injured worker. It can help you come away with the compensation you need for your medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. Being prepared for a workers’ comp mediation or settlement conference means knowing all of the parties in attendance. Although a mediation conference may feel like a trial, it is not one, and the people there will play similar but not the same roles.
In addition to yourself and your workers’ compensation attorney, an attorney representing your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer will also be in attendance. There are some cases where your employer may send an insurance adjuster or even a person or persons to stand in as representatives for them at the hearing. If you feel like you need it, you can bring your spouse, family member, or friend for support. The last person in attendance at your workers’ comp settlement is the mediator. In Pennsylvania, a mediator is typically a workers’ compensation judge, but, as noted before, not the judge assigned to your case. Most importantly, the mediator is an unbiased third party. They are neutral to the proceedings, working only to help both sides come to a fair agreement.
How to Prepare for a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Settlement Conference?
Before you step foot inside the settlement conference, your workers’ comp attorney will tell you everything you need to know. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer understands the ins and outs of a mediation conference and will do everything necessary to bring you up to speed. The most important thing you can do is listen to your attorney and follow their advice
before, during, and after the mediation. Although you are most likely an expert when it comes to your workman’s comp case, having lived through it yourself every day, it is still vital that you familiarize yourself with the essential facts of the case before your mediation. Not knowing specific dates or other pieces of information — or the amount of benefits your employer owes you — could drastically change the outcome of your workers’ comp mediation.
To ensure that you are prepared for your workers’ comp mediation, you should do the following:
- Familiarize yourself with the issues
- Maintain a file of all medical documentation for review
- Add up the cost of all of your medical bills
- Calculate your lost wages
- Ask your workers’ comp attorney if you have any unanswered questions
Most importantly, don’t forget that presentation counts on the day of your workers’ comp mediation in Pennsylvania. Arrive at the settlement conference a few minutes early to ensure that you are not late. Dress appropriately — jeans and t-shirts are not allowed! And finally, remember to be on your best behavior.
What to Expect Workman’s Comp Mediation in PA
At a PA workers’ comp mediation, you can expect to be in session for 15 minutes or five hours depending on the complexities of your case. There is no hard and fast rule for how long it will take for your Pennsylvania workers’ comp lawyer and your employer’s team to reach an agreement — assuming that they do. But, no matter how long the process takes, you can expect your workman’s compensation lawyer to fight for you so that you receive that compensation you deserve for your injuries.
The typical workers’ compensation mediation begins when the mediator convenes both sides for a brief introductory session to explain the process. Other mediators prefer to head right to work. When this happens, both parties will be separated into two different rooms, where the negotiations will begin.
Mediators start the session by explaining their role to you, followed by a brief discussion of the facts of your case. Once that is complete, the mediator will move to the room with the other party and do the same. Throughout a workers’ compensation mediation, your mediator will go back and forth between both rooms, sharing both your demands and any offers put on the table by your employer. Additionally, you may find that the mediator shares some insight with you about the case, including strengths and weaknesses. Understand that this is all coming from a neutral, unbiased viewpoint and that the mediator is doing this with the other party as well.
The most important thing about a workers’ comp mediation is that the discussion is not binding. Nothing you say during the mediation can be used against you in an eventual trial. Your workers’ comp attorney will guide you to a better understanding of whether or not your employer is offering you fair compensation for your injuries. Any settlement, which will usually come in a lump sum, may very well be less than you deserve or need to move forward with your life. An experienced workman’s comp attorney will help you get the compensation you deserve.
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Mediation Is Over. Now What?
A Pennsylvania workers’ compensation mediation is an effective way to settle your workman’s comp case quickly, so you can get the money you need to pay your medical bills and recover your lost wages. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out in your favor and sometimes it ends with no agreement. Your workers’ compensation lawyer will guide you through the process so you can make a decision that is best for you and your family.
But what happens when your Pennsylvania workers’ compensation mediation is over? What happens next?
Following the end of your settlement conference, you will be faced with one of two outcomes. Should you have a successful mediation and end up with a settlement, your mediator will inform the judge assigned to your workman’s comp case. At that point, the judge will issue a hearing notice for a settlement hearing — the hearing which will finalize your case. A final hearing is required as per the PA Workers’ Compensation Act. Your workers’ compensation attorney will contact your employer’s attorney to draft a settlement contract. The document will have specific wording to ensure that your employer follows through with everything agreed to in mediation.
Conversely, should you not come to a settlement agreement in your workers’ comp mediation, your case will move onto the next step, which most likely will be a trial. Your personal injury attorney will do everything necessary to fight for you to receive a winning verdict.
If I Don’t Settle At a PA Workers’ Comp Mediation, Can I Still Settle My Workman’s Comp Case Later?
You might be worried that anything that happens at your workers’ comp mediation may negatively affect your case should it go to trial. Moreover, if you don’t settle your case here and now, have you given up your only chance to do so? For many injured workers in Pennsylvania, a workers’ mediation can feel like a lot of pressure, especially when your bills start to pile up and
you have no money coming in to pay them.
As your workers’ comp attorney can explain to you, you have nothing to fear. A PA workers’ compensation mediation is non-binding. Nothing you do or say can be held against you at the settlement conference. Even the mediator cannot report anything said to the judge in your case.
So, if you’re worried about something going wrong during your settlement conference, you can rest easy.
Additionally, the mediation conference is not your only chance to settle. Your workman’s comp attorney has plenty of opportunities for ongoing conversations with your employer and your employer’s insurance carrier. In many cases, a settlement will come right before or even on the eve of a trial. It is a process with an end goal designed to bring you the best settlement possible.
Workers’ Comp Lawyer Can Help You Win the Compensation You Deserve
When you’re injured at work because of an accident, the extra stress of a workers’ compensation mediation can be overwhelming to your family. At Munley Law, we understand how work injuries can affect your livelihood, bank account, and emotional wellbeing. Our team of experienced workman’s comp attorneys knows the mediation process inside and out. We’ll help you prepare and walk you through the entire process. And we won’t settle unless you’re offered the compensation you deserve.
Our workers’ comp attorneys at Munley Law have 60+ years of experience helping employees and workers like you receive settlements and verdicts so you can move forward with your life.
We can help you with workers’ compensation benefits, third-party negligence claims, and workers’ comp mediation in PA.
At Munley Law, we believe that cost should not stand in the way of justice for the injured. Therefore, we do not collect a fee for our services unless we recover benefits for you. As our client, you will not have to pay anything up front or out of your pocket.
Chat, email, or call us today to arrange a free consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer at Munley Law.
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