Many workers’ compensation claims go through the system without a hitch. You report the injury, and your employer helps you to fill out an incident report. Your employer then reports the incident to their workers’ compensation insurance, your claim is approved, and you receive the benefits that you need for medical expenses and lost wages. Yet, not all workers’ compensation claims are so simple. There are times when your claim is unfairly denied or you don’t receive all of the benefits owed to you.
At these times, you find yourself in a difficult position. You have a workers’ compensation dispute to resolve, so you contact an attorney and request a hearing. Still, you may not actually have to go to the hearing that you’ve requested. It might never even be scheduled, because mediation often comes first. Mediation is something that the State Board of Workers’ Compensation frequently orders in an attempt to resolve disputes before it is necessary to take them to court. You meet with a mediator who facilitates conversation, negotiation, and solutions. Today, we’ll discuss the most important things you need to know about workers’ compensation dispute mediation in Rome, Georgia.
Mediation is Not Optional When the State Board of Workers’ Compensation Orders You to Attend
If you are ordered by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation to attend mediation, then you are required to do so. You are not required to reach an agreement, though. If you are not satisfied with the options that you are presented with during mediation, then you can still opt to resolve the dispute in a workers’ compensation hearing. You should see mediation as your opportunity to discuss the problem, your concerns, and what you want to come of the meeting. The mediator will not force you to agree to anything, and they will not try to make any decisions for you. Rather, they will offer up possible solutions, listen to both sides, and help you come to a mutually beneficial agreement, if possible. It is a good idea to have your attorney present for this meeting, so if you don’t already have one, contact the Bader Law Firm to find out how we can help you through the process.
Confidentiality: What Happens in Mediation Stays in Mediation
You can feel safe when it comes to opening up about your situation in mediation. The process is confidential, and nothing you say can be brought up in any court procedures that may follow. In fact, the mediator can’t even be called as a witness. Any notes that are taken during mediation are destroyed afterwards. There will be one form that remains from the appointment, and this form will only express whether or not an agreement was reached. The reason that confidentiality is so important in mediation is because it makes it possible for each side to openly discuss the dispute without fear of consequences. This doesn’t mean that you should say just anything, and you will still benefit from the presence and advice of your Rome, Georgia, workers’ compensation attorney.
The Mediator Must Be Qualified and Unrelated to the Workers’ Compensation Claim
Not just anyone can be a mediator for a workers’ compensation dispute. The mediator will be appointed by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation, and it will be someone who is a staff attorney or a judge with experience in workers’ compensation cases. However, it also cannot be anyone who is involved with your claim. The person cannot be the judge who is going to preside in your case, and it cannot be the attorney of either side of the case. These rules ensure that mediation remains confidential and that nothing discussed in mediation affects the outcome of the case, unless the case is actually resolved through the mediation process.
How Mediation Helps to Resolve Many Workers’ Compensation Disputes
The reason that mediation is so effective at resolving workers’ compensation disputes in Rome, Georgia, is because you get the benefit of a mediator who understand the law and how it can benefit both sides. The mediator helps you to consider the advantages and disadvantages of various solutions, and gives you the benefit of expert advice from the perspective of someone who is not personally involved in the claim. Though you do not have to say anything in particular or anything at all, it is a good opportunity to discuss the issues that you have. If you are concerned about not receiving benefits, not receiving the appropriate amount of benefits, needing a second opinion from a different doctor, or any other issues that led to your request for a workers’ compensation hearing, this is your chance to discuss them.
Other issues that you might resolve through mediation in a Rome, Georgia, workers’ compensation claim dispute include medical benefits that you haven’t received, wage benefits that were denied, or an unfair light duty employment arrangement. Whatever caused you to request the hearing and end up in mediation, this is the right place to find solutions. In many cases, you can completely avoid the lengthy process involved with a workers’ compensation hearing. You could resolve your dispute within a matter of fifteen minutes, in the best case scenario. In other cases, it might take several hours, and even a second scheduled mediation appointment. Even this will take much less time than the hearing.
You Want to Be Prepared for the Mediation Process in Rome, Georgia
You are not required to bring anything with you to mediation for your Rome, Georgia, workers’ compensation claim. Still, it is a good idea to be prepared. This involves making sure that you bring any relevant documents concerning your case, especially anything that you disagree with. If you have a medical report and restrictions from a doctor you don’t agree with, then you should bring this with you to discuss exactly what you are disputing. If you have medical bills that haven’t been covered by your workers’ compensation benefits, then you should bring those bills. If your wage benefits are lower than they should be, then you should bring evidence of your former average weekly wage, so that this dispute can be addressed and resolved. Finally, one of the best ways to make sure that you are prepared for your workers’ compensation mediation appointment is to bring an attorney. The determined Rome, Georgia, workers’ compensation attorneys at the Bader Law Firm are here for you. Call us today.