Workers’ Compensation Mediation
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method that relies on the open exchange of information, ideas, and alternatives to help the parties resolve their difficulties outside of court. It has proven to be an especially cost-efficient tool for resolving disputes in the workers’ compensation arena. It is a process which may be ordered by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation which requires the injured worker and the employer/insurer to try to resolve certain issues with the assistance of a mediator but without the Administrative Law Judge’s involvement. The parties may also voluntarily agree to participate in a mediation for the purpose of determining whether settlement of the claim is a viable option.
A settlement mediation usually requires all parties to be in attendance and is a process which is voluntary in nature. Although all parties’ presence is required and is mandatory, coming to some agreement on the issues or reaching a settlement of the claim is not mandatory. The mediator is a lawyer employed by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. The mediator is designed to be an impartial person who does not favor one side over the other. Matters which are brought before the mediator in private conference cannot be disclosed to the other side without permission. The mediator attempts to try to get the parties to come to some type of conciliatory agreement. Resolving the issues or possible settlement of the claim almost always means that the employer/insurer is paying money or providing some benefit to the injured worker. Since no case is 100% guaranteed to each side to win or lose, each side comes to a mediation with their set of facts and arguments to help try and resolve the conflict.
Your involvement at a mediation can be as much or as little as you desire. Usually, the attorneys present each separate side to the mediator and the mediator goes back and forth to try to get the parties to reach some type of agreement. If the parties cannot agree to resolve the issues or settle the claim at mediation, the case may proceed to a hearing where the Judge has not been informed of any of the matters brought out at the mediation. Mediation is a time-saving opportunity for both sides to work out any difficulties before embarking down the often long and winding trail to a hearing before a Judge whose decision can be appealed.
If you or someone you know has been seriously injured, contact us online or call us at 404-474-3460 for a FREE consultation to discuss your legal options.