This post discusses what to expect during a mediation in NC Worker’s Compensation Cases. The Bishop Law Firm represents workers’ compensation clients in North Carolina and we do not get paid unless we win. We also offer free case reviews by phone at (919) 615-3095.
In North Carolina, Workers’ Compensation Law provides medical compensation and wage (indemnity) benefits for non-fatal injuries and death benefits for fatal injuries. Medical compensation includes medical treatment and mileage reimbursement for treatment of your on the job injury. Wage benefits provide monetary compensation due to your inability to earn wages because of your on the job injury. This benefit provides compensation based on the physical impairment of the injured body part as well.
After an employee is injured and the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) is given notice of the injury (Form 18), the employer’s workers’ compensation company can accept (approve) or deny a claim. If the claim is denied (or accepted with a disputed matter), the injured employee will need to file for a hearing with the NCIC (Form 33). After the hearing is requested, but before the hearing is scheduled, the parties will be ordered by the NCIC to have a mediation.
Workers’ Comp Mediation NC
If the injured worker is represented by a NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyer when the request for hearing is filed, mediation is ordered by the NCIC as a way to solve the claim before formal hearing. If the injured worker is unrepresented, mediation is usually bypassed unless all parties agree to mediate.
Prior to the mediation, your NC Worker’s Compensation Attorney and opposing counsel have hopefully agreed on a choice of certified mediator from the NCIC’s database of mediators . If they could not agree, the NCIC will appoint a mediator. Once the mediator is selected, a date for your mediation is set.
Before the date of your mediation your attorney should meet and/or call you to discuss the mediation including at what amount they have settlement authority. The mediation process is not formal (like court). As the client, you will not be giving testimony and witnesses will not be called but you may be asked to answer a few questions for clarity, if needed.
The mediation will begin with your NC Worker’s Compensation Lawyer and opposing counsel making opening statements which are a summary of the facts/legal issues in your case for the benefit of the mediator. In the very least, someone with settlement authority from your employer’s insurance carrier should be present. After these opening statements are made, the parties will separate and future dialog between the parties will be made through the mediator. If you have a good mediator, they will convey not only offers but reasons and intent behind them as well.
This can be a difficult time for everyone involved in the mediation process. Low-ball offers and statements regarding the cause of your serious injury may take clients off-guard but please remember that at this stage and at any stage, the employer’s insurance carrier has the ability to approve your claim or settle.
You, as the injured worker, will fare better with your workers’ compensation claim if you are cordial and allow the attorneys to work on the sticking points. Depending on opposing counsel and the mediator, the mediation can be done in two hours or it can last all day. The mediation may be unsuccessful (impasse) if the employer’s representative does not have adequate settlement authority or if either party is being unreasonable in their demands.
If the Mediation in NC Worker’s Compensation Cases is successful, the employer will pay your claim. If the mediation is unsuccessful, a hearing in front of the NCIC is the next step. However, cases do settle after mediation and before hearing. This only illustrates the importance of using mediation to set expectations and explain reasons for those expectations.
The Bishop Law Firm represents injured workers in Raleigh, Cary, Fayetteville, Durham, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids, Greensboro, Winston Salem, Greenville and surrounding areas in North Carolina. We do not get paid unless we win your case and we offer free case reviews by phone, (919) 615-3095.