What Happens During Workers’ Comp Mediation?
Posted on March 8, 2022 in Workers Compensation
Anytime a person sustains a workplace injury in Oregon, they should be able to recover compensation for their medical bills and a major portion of their lost wages. However, there are times when employers and insurance carriers push back from having to pay out compensation. This could include an outright claim denial or refusing to pay the right amount of compensation. In these circumstances necessary to file an appeal, and this could lead to a workers’ compensation mediation.
What is Mediation for Workers’ Compensation?
One possible outcome of a workers’ compensation denial is litigation, but this can be time-consuming and costly. In many instances, mediation is available to injured employees and the other parties involved in the case. Mediation can save significant time and expenses, and it will also remove the uncertainty of pending litigation. Mediation allows all parties involved to create a resolution for their case that serves in their best interests in the long term period
The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) in Oregon offers the services of administrative law judges (ALJs) for a formal mediation process of a work injury claim. The WCB Does not even charge parties to provide these mediation services.
Not all workers’ compensation claims in Oregon will necessarily need to go to a mediation. Some are clear-cut, and individuals receive compensation for their injuries and lost wages immediately. However, mediation is well-suited for cases involving:
- Complex occupational illnesses
- Mental and emotional distress caused by the workplace
- Cases that include civil rights claims, Americans with Disabilities Act cases, and other cases with employment law issues
- Cases of permanent total disability
- Cases where either party considers a settlement inappropriate
How Does Mediation Work in Oregon?
The mediation program set up by the WCB is all voluntary. Each party involved has to want to go to the mediation in order for this to even be a possibility. Additionally, if a case does not settle in mediation, the case will be put back on the hearing docket. The ALJ that presides over the mediation will not be the one to preside at the hearing, and there will not be any communication between the mediator ALJ and the ALJ who oversees the actual trial.
Mediation for a work injury claim will proceed much like mediations for other types of personal injury cases. The mediator will act as the “all-knowing” third party, and they will be the go-between for both parties. After an initial opening statement from both sides, the two parties will separate, and a mediator will go back and forth. Both sides will make their case to the mediator, but the mediator will have more information than anyone else. Even though they will not share what either side says to the other, they will be able to nudge one side or both into an acceptable agreement.
There is no guarantee that mediation will work, but it does give the parties a chance to settle the claim before going through the entire trial process. If you have sustained a workplace injury and think that you may have to go through a mediation or trial to receive your rightful benefits, we strongly encourage you to have a skilled Portland personal injury lawyer by your side.