Workers’ compensation cases (literally) add insult to injury.
You’ve already experienced an injury on the job that has rendered you unable to perform your usual duties, now you have to go to court and prepare a legal case?
In many cases, a workers’ compensation mediation can bring about a satisfactory solution to your case. Even complex cases or those that have been ongoing for several years can be resolved through mediation. Mediation is sometimes a voluntary choice made by the parties; other times, it is required by a court.
Mediation is an alternative to litigation (fighting your case in court), where the two parties sit down with a mediator to negotiate and reach a solution that is beneficial to everyone involved. Unlike arbitration, where the third party (arbitrator) acts like a judge and does not contribute to the discussion, a mediator’s job is to guide the conversation to help both sides reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion.
A lawyer’s job is to act as an advocate for their client, representing them in court and making sure their needs are met. But a certified circuit-civil mediator must remain neutral. When you go to court, your fate is in the hands of a judge or jury. However, when you attend mediation, the parties are the ones that control their destiny. Oftentimes, a successful settlement leaves the Employer/Carrier feeling like they paid more than they wanted to and the injured worker feeling like they received less than they wanted. Most cases do settle because neither party wants to risk a negative result at trial and both parties want to be done with litigation.
While resolution is the aim of mediation, it is not required. If it is possible to achieve a solution that both parties find acceptable, then mediation has been successful. If no such resolution is possible, both parties still have the option of taking their case before a judge or jury. Sometimes a case is mediated multiple times. Additionally, even if mediation does not result in a settlement or resolution of the issues, it can be a useful tool for the parties to gain perspective on the strength/weakness of their case. It can also be a building block on the road to a later resolution of the case/issues.