If you have ever been involved in a legal matter, you may have heard the word mediation. Mediations are a dispute resolution conference used to resolve issues between parties in a legal matter. Mediations, unlike arbitrations, are not binding – meaning that you can choose whether to resolve the issues or legal matter. In workers compensation cases, mediation is ordered by the North Carolina Industrial Commission when a party requests a hearing and can also be scheduled voluntarily by the parties to assist with settlement of a case.
Multiple parties are present at mediation and currently mediations are conducted both in person or on zoom. The Plaintiff, their attorney, an attorney representing the Defendant, representatives of the insurance carrier and employer and a mediator are present at the mediation. The mediator is an attorney who is knowledgeable about workers compensation and is a neutral party to facilitate negotiations and resolution. The mediator is paid by the hour and their pay is not dependent on whether the claim settles.
Mediations begin with an opening conference involving all parties. During this time, information is shared by each party and the mediator provides useful information to the Plaintiff. Thereafter, the parties will go into separate meeting rooms, with the mediator going back and forth between the parties. The mediator will ask each party to think critically about their case and share information to facilitate negotiations. Mediations typically last several hours.
If the parties reach a settlement, a form from the North Carolina Industrial Commission is used to memorialize the agreement. This is called a Mediated Settlement Agreement and this makes the agreement binding on all parties. This agreement will contain the terms of the settlement and is signed by all parties.
Mediations are a great way to resolve your workers compensation case or disputed issues. If you have questions about mediation, you can call Cardinal Law Partners for a FREE consultation to speak with a North Carolina State Bar Certified Workers Compensation Specialist.