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Can I have a mediator to settle my workers' compensation dispute?

When a Louisiana worker suffers workplace injuries or has an occupational disease, he or she will be within their rights to seek workers' compensation benefits to cover for the lost time one the job, pay for medical expenses and provide other benefits. However, these cases are sometimes in dispute. While there are alternatives to try to get the workers' compensation the employee feels entitled to, one strategy that might be beneficial is to have a mediation conference.

With a mediation conference, there will be an informal meeting with a mediator. The mediator is neutral and will not take sides in the dispute. The goal is to settle the issues without the case going further. There are licensed lawyers who listen to the issues for the Office of Workers' Compensation and seek to find common ground. These individuals will help both sides to deal with the case before it must go to a judge who will decide. This can be beneficial as it is a negotiation and not a final decision by the judge.

A worker can seek mediation before and after the filing of a Disputed Claim for Compensation. This is form 1008. If the request to have a mediator is made before the filing, it will be known as a pre-1008 mediation conference. A mediation conference after the form was filed will be a post-1008 mediation conference. There is a list of mediators for the OWC. The parties can make a written request to the mediator and they will be contacted to schedule a meeting to discuss the issues.

If the case cannot be settled via mediation, there are two possible outcomes: if it was held as pre-1008 mediation, the worker will then need to file the disputed claim form. If it is post-1008 mediation, it will go to trial and be heard by a judge. Additional workers' compensation mediation conferences can be requested while the process is moving forward, but all parties must agree to it except in cases in which it has been ordered by the judge.

Mediation is not a solution in all cases, but if there is common ground in the case and the parties are willing to negotiate, mediation can be beneficial. A lawyer can help clients who have been injured or became ill at work and are seeking workers' compensation benefits.

Source: laworks.net, "You Have a Right to a Mediation Conference," accessed on Jan. 16, 2018

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