Pros and Cons of Workers’ Compensation Mediation in North Carolina

Posted on Monday, December 5th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

What is mediation?

After the injured worker files a work injury claim and requests a hearing on the case, the North Carolina Industrial Commission will first order the parties to a mediation conference. The parties can either agree to have the mediation or disagree in which case the NICC will make the decision whether a mediation is advisable or a waste of everyone’s time.

North Carolina worker’s compensation lawyer Joe Miller will review with you the pros and cons of mediation. Many cases do settle at the mediation. Mediations can be worthwhile, even if the case doesn’t settle, because they can help narrow the issues and help get advance knowledge of what the insurance carrier for the employer thinks.

At a mediation, typically the lawyer, for the insurance carrier and employer appears alone, and the insurance adjuster is on standby on the phone. Although they are technically supposed to appear, many times, it is more expedient to waive their appearance so the mediation can take place at a time more convenient to the injured worker and his or her attorney.

The worker appears at the mediation with his/her attorney, and there is a mediator who tries to resolve the disputes. The mediator is a neutral party—typically an attorney knowledgeable in workers compensation law, selected by the parties from an approved list of qualified mediators. He or she is usually an attorney who has received training on how to mediate disputes. The mediator does not make any decisions or rulings, other than to declare an impasse if the parties cannot reach an agreement.

The mediation usually begins in a conference room at an agreed-upon location, with the mediator explaining the process. Each side then states its positions. This is usually a short statement of the facts relevant to the dispute.

Then, the two sides typically split up and go into two different rooms. The mediator go back and forth between each room, speaks to both sides to identify the issues, identity the disputes, and try to reach a solution. The mediator then gets input from one side and then walks to the other room to hear the input from the other side. Before the mediator leaves the room to head to the other, he or she will usually be given a monetary figure. On the injured worker’s side, this is called a “demand.” On the insurance company’s side, this is called an “offer.”

In this way, many disputes are resolved. The back and forth continues until hopefully, the offer and demand figures move closer and closer, until either there is a settlement or until there is an impasse. If the case cannot be resolved, then the mediator notifies the NICC and the case is set up for a hearing.

Preparation for the Mediation

Injured workers should review their mediation case with their attorney well in advance of the mediation. Strategy and experience are crucial to a successful mediation and typically our office will schedule a “mediation preparation” call or session a week or two prior to the mediation. Well in advance of the mediation, the injured worker’s attorney will be reviewing all of the relevant medical records and will typically have issued a “demand letter” to the insurance adjuster or his or her attorney.

This is done because the employer’s and insurance company’s lawyer often needs to get authority to settle the claim. This refers to the amount of money that the insurance company is willing to authorize the attorney to offer to resolve the claim.

Accordingly, the more they know about the case beforehand, often the better. Unlike a hearing, where surprise can work in your favor because the parties cannot walk away from a hearing – in mediation, the element of surprise can be a disadvantage because the party that is surprised can just refuse to settle and demand a hearing.

On the other hand, one does not want to come to the mediation as a “beggar.” If the insurance company thinks the worker is desperate for a settlement, then they will “low ball” and not offer the true value of the claim. Accordingly, it is best to engage in at least some “poker playing” and not appear too eager to settle. An experienced North Carolina worker’s compensation attorney will therefore advise you to “keep your cards close to your chest” when engaged in a mediation setting.

Mediations are confidential. This means that statements by either side cannot be used at the hearing. There is a trade-off though. While the statements can’t be used, the words don’t evaporate. The lawyers will know what was said and use the facts in those statements to their practical advantage by engaging in discovery about anything that is learned in mediation that was not known previously.

Mediators often review the potential outcomes of a case and the odds of success for each outcome. A mediation resolution usually means some compromise. Preparation helps because an experienced lawyer will explain which compromises are minor in the long run and which compromises cost a lot of money. Both sides usually walk away from the mediation slightly unhappy. The keys to a successful compromise are to balance properly the odds of winning, the money at stake, and the needs of the injured worker.

Mediation is generally useful only when the injured worker knows the full extent of his/her injuries and their full medical prognosis. It doesn’t make sense to mediate if the worker hasn’t reached his/her full point of medical improvement. Clients who have reached full medical improvement may need to still treat to maintain their medical level. But if the patient doesn’t know if he/she can still get better, mediation is usually not advisable.

This is why usually, well before mediation, the injured workers’ attorney will write to the workers’ treating physicians to obtain their opinions on the likely course and cost of future care. These opinions will accordingly be used to help form the demand letter to the insurance company.

Injured workers should understand that the result of a full and final settlement at mediation is typically a lump sum payment. This means the worker will forfeit the right to continuing medical bill payments and continuing lost wage benefits for a one-time cash settlement. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will review:

  • The outstanding medical bills;
  • The length of time temporary total disability or temporary partial disability would continue to be paid to the worker;
  • The need for and cost of additional medical treatment for the work injuries for the remainder of the worker’s life;
  • Any permanent partial impairment ratings to any particular body part;
  • The ability of the worker to return to work – with or without restrictions—in his or her pre-injury job, or in alternate employment;
  • Whether the worker remains completely disabled to perform any work and if so, if that disability is likely to remain past 500 weeks.
  • Whether the worker is a current Medicare recipient or anticipates qualifying for Medicare in the next 30 months.

Because the ability to obtain temporary total disability typically ends at 500 weeks of benefits, many times the future medical benefits become very important and a can be key issue is figuring out the value of any potential workers comp settlement. Joe Miller Esq. works with your doctors to determine your medical diagnosis, your prognosis, the type and extent of the medical treatments needed, and the expenses for each treatment going forward. Sometimes these things can be estimated, sometimes it is much more difficult. The cost of medications and medical equipment such as prosthetics will also be part of the settlement equation.

Speak with an Experienced North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney today

North Carolina worker’s compensation attorney Joe Miller has been helping injured workers in North Carolina and Virginia get justice. He has helped thousands of clients get the compensation they deserve. He understands the ins and outs of mediation. For help now, please call Joe Miller at (888) 694-1671 or fill out his online contact form

What Are the Benefits of Issue Settlement or Mediation?

Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

There are a lot of benefits to an Alternative Dispute Resolution. According to the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission, these are the main ones:

 

  • Control: Mediation allows the parties to participate in how their case will be resolved, while litigation involves turning the decision making process over to another.
  • Timeliness: A resolution can be reached more quickly through mediation than it can be through litigation.
  • Flexibility: The particular circumstances of a case can be addressed flexibly.
  • Privacy: Statements made in, and documents prepared for, mediation are confidential, and inadmissible in any litigation, so that the parties may be free to express sentiments that they could not express in litigation.”

 

Call Virginia Injured Worker’s Lawyer Joe Miller if You were Hurt on the Job

Joe Miller has the experience and skills to professionally handle every aspect of your Virginia Worker’s compensation claim because he has been helping personal injury victims for over 25 years. He understands when mediation is a good idea and when it is not. He prepares the case and you for mediation so you can get the best result possible. He understands how mediators work. Phone attorney Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 if you were injured at work. You can also complete his online form to schedule an appointment.

Where and When Will the Mediation Take Place?

Posted on Friday, February 12th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

Where? It depends. It is usually held at the nearest Virginia WCC Office to where the work accident happened or where the parties to the claim are located. The Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission tries to accommodate the parties by picking a location that is convenient for everyone. “If special accommodations are needed, please contact the Alternative Dispute Resolution Department at least 72 hours in advance of the scheduled mediation.”

 

When? “This depends on the availability of those necessary to the mediation. A mediation is generally scheduled within 45 – 60 days of the time all parties consent to ADR. ADR will also schedule emergency mediations in cases where such action is necessary or requested by the parties.” Emergencies can include health issue, foreclosure or other pressing issue.

 

Get Help for Your Virginia Workers’ Compensation Case

Joe Miller has the experience and skills to strongly handle each claim you make. He has helped thousands of injured workers in Virginia and North Carolina get the help they need. Joe Miller has been advising injured workers for over 25 years. You may have a sizeable recovery coming your way. Call attorney Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 to get a review of your case. You can also complete his online Internet form at www.joemillerinjurylaw.com

What Work-Related Issues Are Mediated In Virginia?

Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

Any or all of the following issues can be reviewed at the mediation.

 

  1. Average weekly wage “loss”
  2. Period of TTD (Temporary Total Disability); closed periods of disability
  3. Change in treating physician (Authorized)
  4. Return to work
  5. Failure to report incarceration, change in address or return to work
  6. Mileage to and from health care providers
  7. COLA (Cost of Living Allowance)
  8. Period of TPD (Temporary Partial Disability)
  9. Payment of prescription costs
  10. Payment of medical bills
  11. PPI (Permanent Partial Impairment Ratings)
  12. Authorization for medical treatment
  13. Credit (overpayment of compensation or credit for disability policies paid for by employer)
  14. Body parts injured

 

Hurt at Work? Call Virginia Injured Worker’s Attorney Joe Miller for Help

Joe Miller has the experience and skills to professionally handle every aspect of your Virginia Worker’s compensation claim. He makes sure injured employees get all the benefits they deserve including wage loss and medical benefits. He readies all of your claims, negotiates settlements at mediation when wise, and tries cases when the employer is not paying you what you deserve.

Call attorney Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 and ask for Joe Miller, or email jmiller@joemillerinjurylaw.com

More Questions about the ADR Process in Virginia Worker’s Compensation Cases

Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

What does the mediator do?

The mediator attempts to clarify the disputed issues and tries to help the parties resolve their differences. “If asked to do so by the parties, a mediator may offer opinions or a neutral evaluation. Any opinions or neutral evaluation are not binding on the parties.” The mediator does explain the options that are available. Bottom line through – the parties control the result, not the mediator.

 

What is expected of the injured worker at the mediation?

The worker does need to appear at the mediation and must negotiate in good faith. When asked by the mediator, the injured worker (through his/her lawyer) will give their thoughts. Long discussions are not required. It is a chance to resolve the issues without having someone resolved them for you, so it is important to communicate your concerns to your lawyer throughout the process.

 

How long will the mediation take?

“It depends. The length of time spent in the mediation depends on a number of factors: the number of issues being addressed in the mediation, complexity of the case, amount of information you choose to share, the preparation of the parties. Full and Final or Settlement Mediations are scheduled for three hours. Issue Mediations are usually scheduled for 90 minutes. Mediations may be scheduled for longer by request of the parties, or they may be continued for another session.”

 

Who pays for the mediation?

Neither side pays for the mediation if the mediator is a Commission mediator. If the parties choose their own mediator, then the parties also decide who pays for the mediator.

 

Do I need to bring anything with me to the mediation?

Your lawyer will make sure you have all the necessary documents such as medical bills, your medical history, critical medical reports and opinions, and if the facts of the accident are at issue, photographs.

 

Injured at Work? Contact Virginia Worker’s Compensation Attorney Joe Miller

Joe Miller provides strong counsel for injured workers. He knows the arguments employers and insurance companies make. He prepares your case as though it will be tried but negotiates when a settlement is merited. He’ll do everything possible to make sure you go back to work when you are ready, not when the employer says you can. Lawyer Joe Miller fights to get his clients every dollar that law allows. Contact attorney Joe Miller for an appointment at 888-694-1671 or complete his online form at www.joemillerinjurylaw.com

What is Mediation and why is the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission Pushing Mediation?

Posted on Monday, February 1st, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

Mediations has several key components.

  • There is a mediator who is trained to try to resolved disputes. The mediator is a neutral third party—in Virginia usually an active or retired Deputy Commissioner— who discusses the issues and tries to reach an overall agreement.
  • Mediation is confidential—nothing discussed in mediation is admissible in a hearing, unless it is otherwise discoverable.
  • Mediation tries to address the future needs of the parties rather to assess fault or blame.
  • Mediation allows the parties to have control over the process. The parties have the sole power to reach an agreement. The mediator does not make any formal decisions.
  • The Commission believes that the employee and employer are in the best position to discuss their issues and to try to resolve them.
  • Mediation can take place by phone as well as in person
  • Mediation is a much faster process than litigation.

 

Virginia Worker’s Compensation Lawyer Joe Miller Understands the Ins and Outs of Mediation

Virginia Worker’s Compensation attorney, Joe Miller has the experience and skills to professionally handle your injured worker claim. He has represented and helped thousands of injured workers get the full benefits they deserve. He is ready to guide you through each phase of your case including alternative dispute resolution. He’ll prepare you and your case for mediation and for hearing if necessary. Phone attorney Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 and ask for Joe Miller or complete his online form for an appointment.

What Are the Goals of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Virginia Worker’s Compensation Cases?

Posted on Friday, January 29th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

The Virginia Worker’s Compensation website discusses many worker issues included ADR. ADR, also known as mediation, is an alternative to litigation that can be quicker, easier and less stressful than conducting a hearing before a Deputy Commissioner. As with all injured worker issues in Virginia, the best way to find out about the ADR process is to speak with an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney.

 

Either the employee or the employer can request an alternative dispute resolution at any time. There are several types of ADR/mediations that your lawyer will explain. Some are Full and Final Settlement resolutions. Others try to minimize or identify the real issues in the hope a settlement can be reached or the hearing can be limited to just a few issues.

 

An Alternative Dispute Resolution program does not alter the benefits that the employee or his/her dependents, or survivors are allowed under Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. All parties to the mediation have the right to address each and every issue and to have a hearing if the ADR does not resolve the matters.

 

The big difference with ADR is that the employee, rather than the Deputy Commissioner is the one who decides whether or not to accept the final offer from the workers compensation insurance company.

 

Injured at Work? Virginia Injured Worker’s Lawyer Joe Miller Provides Strong Counsel

Joe Miller has been representing injured workers for over 25 years. He has been involved in numerous mediations and has obtained many satisfactory and complete settlements for his clients. The employer and insurance companies will have lawyers fighting for them. You need an experienced lawyer fighting for you, even if it is in the friendly setting of a mediation. Call attorney Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 and ask for Joe Miller, or email jmiller@joemillerinjurylaw.com

Mediation Review Form for Virginia Worker’s Compensation Cases

Posted on Friday, January 15th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

This is a form that reviews how well the mediator did. It reviews the mediator’s performance, case management features, and includes overall suggestions. Reviewers have the option of including their name and the date of the mediation.

Questions about the mediator’s performance include a 1 to 5 scale on the following topics.

Did the mediator….

 

  • Create a rapport with the parties?
  • Establish and keep control of the mediation process?
  • Use everyone’s time effectively?
  • Remain impartial?
  • Listen?

 

Other questions include:

  • What was your overall satisfaction rate?
  • Were the case scheduling and confirmation process handled effectively?
  • Were the mediation room and the facilities comfortable?
  • What overall suggestions do you have to better the mediator and the mediation process?

 

Virginia Injured Worker’s Attorney Joe Miller Knows the State Mediation Process

Attorney Joe Miller has been helping injured employees for over 25 years. This work includes mediating cases when possible. Mediation isn’t suggested until the worker has reached maximum medical improvement. Once the worker’s medical status for the future is known, a settlement may be possible. The settlement must include a lot of things because once the case is settled, there’s no do-over. The mediator helps the settlement process. Attorney Joe Milles has handled numerous mediations. He knows the pitfalls, and what must be done to get a strong result. Contact attorney Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 to discuss your case or complete his online appointment form.

 

Do’s and Don’ts for Mediation of North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Cases

Posted on Monday, September 21st, 2015 at 2:20 pm    

Mediation is a mandatory process in North Carolina where unless the Parties object, an opportunity is provided to resolve the client’s claim. The Parties and their attorneys get together in an informal setting. A Mediator is someone who the Parties agree to use to help facilitate a settlement of the claim. The Mediator really does not decide anything. He or she is just there to help the Parties come together and try to resolve the claim. (more…)