Mediation In Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Cases
Injured workers who have applied for workers’ compensation benefits, or who are interested in potentially doing so, may wonder if there are any alternatives to trial if their employer disputes their workers’ compensation claim. The denial of workers’ compensation benefits due to a disagreement on the part of the employer can be very frustrating and crushing to an injured or ill worker, and the idea of having to fight a workers’ compensation case before a judge can seem overwhelming. One avenue that is available if there is a disagreement between the employer and the employee about entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits is mediation. It is, therefore, important for Louisiana workers to know about the mediation process and the option to exercise it in their workers’ compensation case.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is essentially an opportunity for two opposing “sides” in a controversy – here the employer-side denying worker’s compensation benefits and the injured or ill employee seeking workers’ compensation benefits on the other side – to meet during a single day or series of days to negotiate the case in attempt to resolve it in front of a neutral third-party. Mediation is not a “court date” or “hearing” and is an informal, yet professional process. Mediation can be thought of as typically a day-long negotiation meeting where both sides get together to see if they can come to an agreement about a legal issue.
Who is the Neutral Third-Party Who Oversees Workers’ Compensation Mediations?
In every mediation – even outside workers’ compensation cases – a neutral third-party oversees the proceedings, called a mediator. A mediator is typically a lawyer or retired judge who has experience in the matter at hand and familiarity with the issues. Importantly, a mediator is supposed to be neutral, meaning he or she has no interest in one side or the other or the outcome of the case. Under Louisiana workers’ compensation laws, if requested through the Office of Workers’ Compensation, mediations are conducted before the Office of Workers’ Compensation with a mediator from the office. In legal proceedings, parties can also agree to private mediation with a private mediator.
When Does Mediation Happen?
Mediation can occur before filing a claim, after filing, and at various times throughout the proceedings, depending on the case, the agreement of the parties, and the judge, who can order mediation. An experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyer can advise as to whether mediation makes sense in a workers’ particular case, how to request it, and mediation strategy.
How do I Handle My Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Mediation?
Mediation can be an important part of a workers’ compensation case. If mediation has been scheduled in your Louisiana workers’ compensation case, or if you have any questions about workers’ compensation mediation, it is best to speak with an experienced Louisiana & Mississippi workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible about your rights and options. Contact the experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe today for a confidential consultation to learn your rights and see if they can help.