Alternative Dispute Resolution in a Workers’ Compensation Claim
August 15, 2017
However, many workers’ comp cases do not run that smoothly. Serious injuries that place employees out of work for a long period of time—or permanently—may be denied by your company’s insurer, or your employer could claim the injury didn’t happen while you were working. In other cases, your benefits could be prematurely ended. In any event, the claim may go to litigation, meaning the case goes to workers’ compensation court (known in Philadelphia as Workers’ Compensation Office of Adjudication).
Instead of going right to a formal hearing, you will first try to settle the claim through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which allows all parties to have informal talks about the case and hopefully find a satisfying conclusion.
Learn more about ADR
Through ADR, the injured worker and the employer talk informally with the help of their attorneys and a workers’ compensation judge. ADR may take the form of mediation, a settlement conference, or an informal conference:
- If you file a workers’ comp petition in PA, mediation is mandatory. It is one of the first steps you’ll take after a petition is filed. Mediation is an informal meeting between you, your employer, and a workers’ compensation judge who acts as a mediator. Attorneys may also be present. You will try to come to a reasonable resolution, and hopefully a satisfactory settlement, during this meeting.
- Settlement conference. Cases that aren’t resolved in the mandatory mediation session can opt for a voluntary settlement conference afterwards. This meeting is similar to a mediation.
- Informal conference. You or your attorney can file a petition for an informal conference if your case wasn’t settled in a conference or mediation. In some cases, an informal conference helps resolve specific issues unrelated to the actual settlement amount. A judge will not be present during an informal hearing.
All forms of alternative dispute resolution are:
- “Off the record,” meaning the testimony is not sworn in
- Potentially time- and money-saving
- Generally preferable to a formal hearing, where a judge makes a final decision
- Good opportunity for both sides to resolve their differences
When you need a staunch advocate with experience, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney at Larry Pitt & Associates. From start to finish, we work hard to get you results. To arrange a no-cost consult to discuss your workers’ compensation case, fill out our contact form or call 888.PITT.LAW. We work with injured workers like you throughout Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.