This post discusses what to expect during a mediation in NC Worker’s Compensation Cases. The Bishop Law Firm represents worker’s compensation clients in North Carolina and we do not get paid unless we win. You can also read our NC Worker’s Compensation FAQs for more information.
What is mediation and why do we have mediation in NC Worker’s Compensation Cases?
Disputed NC Worker’s Compensation claims are adjudicated by the NC Industrial Commission (NCIC). If the injured worker is represented and files for hearing, mediation is ordered by the NCIC as a way to solve the claim before formal hearing. Over 70% of NC Worker’s Compensation cases settle at mediation. 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 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.
Prior to 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. Mediation is not a formal process like court. As the client, you will not be giving testimony and witnesses will not be called but you may be asked to answer some questions for clarity. The mediation will begin with your NC Worker’s Compensation Lawyer and opposing counsel making opening statements in front of all parties. In the very least, someone with settlement authority from your employer 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 as well.
Please remember that at this stage and at any stage, the employer has the ability to approve your claim or settle. You, as the injured worker, will fare better with your employer 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 any 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, Durham, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids, and surrounding areas in North Carolina. We do not get paid unless we win your case, (919) 615-3095. Call us today!