Not every workers’ compensation dispute ends up in a courtroom before a judge. The majority of cases are resolved by other means long before a trial could ever take place.
In Florida, it’s preferred for parties in dispute over workers’ compensation and other matters to be resolved through negotiations or dispute resolution. Mediation and arbitration are two types of alternative dispute resolutions that help save time, money, energy, and expense when legal issues arise. These methods should be considered first before progressing to a trial.
Florida’s workers’ compensation laws require that when there is a dispute regarding workers’ compensation, mediation must take place before trial. This mediation would involve the injured party and the employers’ workers’ compensation insurer. In mediation, the parties get together to discuss the ongoing case in a more informal setting in the hopes of expediting settlement disputes. This would then allow the injured worker to receive the benefits they are entitled to without waiting for a trial.
When issues like unpaid medical bills or something more complex like long-term benefits, dispute resolution is the best way to work things out. It can help speed along the process while assisting you in getting the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve for your work-related injury.
If you need assistance finding a lawyer to represent you during this process, contact 1-800-Injured. 1-800-Injured is an attorney and medical referral service.
What Happens During Mediation and Dispute Resolution?
Florida’s workers’ compensation laws require that dispute resolution must occur within 120 days after a petition is filed. Known as the Petition for Benefits, it’s what an injured worker must file if their claim has been denied.
Holding this dispute resolution at the State Board of Workers’ Compensation with a State Board mediator can be beneficial as there is no cost under those circumstances. Regardless of location, you can have a private mediator, typically paid for by the workers’ compensation insurer.
Next, both sides will sit down together — the attorneys for both parties, the injured party, and the mediator. Sometimes, the insurance adjuster who was on the case may also be present or on the phone.
The dispute resolution session will begin with both sides meeting in the same room with the mediator. The attorneys will then have the chance to make an opening statement that outlines their positions on these injuries, the treatments received, any permanent impairment, and the injury victim’s ability to return to work in the future.
After making these statements, the injury victim enters a separate room with their attorney to meet with the mediator for a private discussion. The mediator will carry on in this way, meeting with each side separately and going back and forth to help them reach an agreement.
What Is the Mediator’s Job in Dispute Resolution?
The mediator is responsible for helping identify the issues between both parties. The mediator will also help develop bargaining positions and reveal the settlement offers between both parties.
It’s important to note that the mediator does not represent either party. They can’t make decisions for either side or order the case to settle in a particular way.
In most cases, an agreement will be reached through this mode of dispute resolution. The mediator will draft a memorandum of understanding that is approved by both sides — though in many cases, the attorneys will draft a settlement agreement. This would then be signed and filed with the court.
When you have a problem with your workers’ compensation benefits, it’s imperative that you look for lawyers for workers’ compensation. They will understand the inner workings of applicable laws and represent you through dispute resolution.
It’s stressful to have injuries from work and be entitled to workers’ comp benefits yet not see a penny of it. With an attorney, you will have an advocate who fights for what is fair on your behalf, allowing you to work on healing from your injuries.