If you are unhappy with the decision on your workers’ compensation application, you will be expected to try mediating your claim before you receive an appeal hearing. No resolution will be forced upon you at this point — if you cannot reach an agreement, you may proceed to a full hearing (and an appeal if the results of the hearing don’t satisfy you). North Carolina law allows your lawyer to accompany you to the mediation conference.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is assisted settlement — it is a procedure in which a third person tries to help you reach a settlement with the other party. As mentioned above, he cannot force a settlement on you — he can only try to persuade you. If you and the other party agree, both parties will sign a formal settlement agreement. Once this agreement has been signed by both parties, it is legally binding, and compliance with its terms is no longer voluntary.
Mediation is more than just a formality. At mediations held under the auspices of the North Carolina Industrial Commission (the government bureau that administers the workers’ compensation program) settlement rates have historically exceeded 75 percent, including settlements that occur before the mediation conference takes place..
How Mediators are Selected
Mediators must be trained and qualified, and they must be certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission. As long as the parties can agree on a mediator, they may select a qualified mediator on their own, or they may choose from a list provided by the Dispute Resolution Commission. If the parties cannot agree on a mediator by the deadline, the Dispute Resolution Commission will select a mediator from the same list.
Almost any qualified mediator will demand to be paid for his services, and those services typically aren’t cheap. Nevertheless, as long as the parties select the mediator, the three parties can agree among themselves how much the mediator is to be paid and what proportion each of the disputants will pay. If the Dispute Resolution Commission selects the mediator, the fee will be $150 per hour. There is also an additional $150 fee per case.
All mediators are expected to adhere to the Standards of Professional Conduct for Mediators issued by the Dispute Resolution Commission.
Contact Us as Soon as Possible
If you are considering resolving your workers’ compensation claim through mediation, you are going to need the assistance of a workers’ compensation lawyer. John A. Hedrick has been practicing in workers’ compensation law for more than two decades now, and he is certified as a specialist in workers’ compensation law.
Feel free to contact us by telephone at 919-626-3895 or complete our online contact, so that we can set up a consultation to answer your questions and explore your options. Although we are based in Raleigh, we serve clients from all over the state.