If it has been determined that litigation is necessary, your lawyer will file a Petition for Benefits, which starts the litigation process. The Employer/Carrier may or may not respond to the Petition for Benefits. Regardless, in every case where a Petition for Benefits has been filed, the parties are required to attend mediation before moving on to a trial.
A mediation is a meeting between the parties (and their counsel, if any) wherein a state or private mediator tries to assist the parties in reaching a satisfactory conclusion without a judge. The mediator has no authority to decide the ultimate outcome of the case and communications during mediation are confidential. Parties are required to attend mediation within 130 days from the date a Petition for Benefits is filed.
At a mediation, the parties may be able to resolve some, all, or none of the issues being litigated or may even reach an overall settlement of the case. If there are any unresolved issues at the conclusion of the mediation, the parties proceed to the next stage of litigation.
The next step is a pre-trial hearing, wherein both parties identify certain facts that they agree upon and outline the claims that remain outstanding, the defenses being asserted, the evidence to be presented, and the witnesses to be called to testify.