Before the Industrial Commission hears any workers’ compensation claim, it requires that the employee and employer meet in person with a neutral lawyer who is not associated with either side to discuss settling the claim. This process is called a “mediation” and the neutral lawyer is called a “mediator.”
What does the mediator do?
Mediators do not have authority to rule on your case and they cannot order you to do anything. They are only there to listen to the parties, help the parties avoid any further litigation and conflict, and see if there is common ground.
What happens at mediation?
Typically at mediation both sides meet together at the start and share opening statements about the history of your workplace injury and your best arguments regarding the value of your claim. Once opening statements are done, however, the mediator will separate the parties into separate rooms and meet with each side. The two sides then negotiate the value of a settlement with the mediator carrying settlement offers between the two rooms.
What if we don’t settle my claim at mediation?
If the parties cannot agree to a settlement at mediation, the mediator declares an “impasse”, ends the mediation, and reports to the Industrial Commission. The claim is then ready to be heard by the Industrial Commission.
While our lawyers are always prepared to exhaust all available options for our clients, we recognize that it is in our clients’ best interests to resolve their claims earlier in the process. We regularly counsel clients through the mediation process, helping them to settle their claims at the most favorable terms possible.