While mediation is not productive in every workers’ compensation case, it can help resolve disputed issues and settle some claims. In addition, it can give you some control over the outcome of your claim—something that could be important to you if disputes make the result in your case more uncertain. Whether you requested mediation or it was ordered by the judge, you will be more prepared for the mediation hearing if you know what to expect.
Who Attends Your Mediation Hearing?
Mediation is an informal proceeding where a neutral third party helps you and the workers’ compensation insurance company for your employer resolve whatever issues are being mediated, sometimes resulting in the settlement of your claim. It is often held in a conference room at a State Board of Workers’ Compensation office near where the parties are located. Typically the following people will attend your mediation hearing:
- Your attorney
- Attorney for your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer
- Insurance adjuster for your employer
- Your spouse, a family member, or close friend—if you want them for support
What Typically Happens at Mediation Hearings?
Your hearing will most likely start with all the parties in one conference room. Mediation is private and confidential. Anything you or the other party says at the hearing cannot be used against either of you at your trial or other workers’ compensation hearing.
The mediation often begins with the mediator giving an opening statement about his role in mediating your case and how the process of doing so will work. After that, the attorney for the insurance company and your attorney will have an opportunity to give a brief statement regarding the key points of the case and any materials you believe will be helpful to the successful settlement of the case.
In many cases, after an initial discussion, the mediator will separate the parties into different conference rooms and go between the rooms as he attempts to help you resolve your case. This allows the mediator to discuss issues privately with both parties to understand your positions and resolve disputes. He will also try to get you and the insurance company to agree on the terms of a settlement.
You should expect a fair exchange of information about each of your points of view regarding disputed issues. Also, do not be surprised if the mediator aggressively tries to settle your claim and makes you aware of the weaknesses as well as the strengths of your case. He may suggest alternative ways to resolve your disputes—all in an effort to settle them.
How Long Does A Mediation Hearing Take?
The length of your mediation hearing with depend on several factors, such as the number of disputed issues, the complexity of your case, and the amount of information being presented to the mediator. A mediation hearing can be as short as 15 minutes or take hours to complete.
How Should You Prepare for Your Mediation Hearing?
You want to be well prepared for your mediation hearing both to present your position as favorably as possible and to make the outcome of the hearing more successful. You should plan to meet with your attorney prior to the hearing. You and your attorney should discuss the following in preparation for your hearing:
- The facts of your case
- The strengths in your case
- The weaknesses in your case
- The disputes in your case
- The types and amount of workers’ compensation benefits that you could realistically be awarded
Is Mediation Right for You?
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can advise you whether mediation can help you resolve your claim and can thoroughly prepare your case to maximize the likelihood that the hearing will be successful. If you need to file for workers’ compensation benefits, start an online chat or call our firm at 888-795-6261 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your situation and how Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws can help you.