Friday, March 2, 2012

Should I Particpate In A Minnesota Work Comp Mediation?

Has your attorney suggested that you participate in a mediation of your Minnesota Workers' Compensation Claim?  Over the past 20 years that I have participated in work comp claims, I have witnessed first hand the increasing use of meditations with excellent success.

Work comp litigation can involve significant costs over months and years with an uncertain end in store for both sides.  Even if the parties go to a hearing with a workers compensation judge, the "Findings and Order" are generally limited to the disputes up through the date of the hearing.  I too have had a work injury and agreed to mediate my workers compensation disputes through the use of a mediator.  Though I go to hearing or conferences before judges on an almost weekly basis in my practice representing injured workers, most injured workers like myself, find the mediation outcome worthwhile.

Why mediate a case when I can go to a hearing instead?  The number one reason is you may not like the outcome which can rarely be overturned on appeal.  Typically if you go to hearing and lose, your case is finished and though you may convince yourself that you went to trial for the "principal" of the matter, that's not always the best rational.  The mediators job is to bring the parties together in an effort to find common ground and come up with a settlement that, though both parties may not be thrilled with, is still satisfactory.

Meditations can be performed by excellent private mediators such as Joan Hallock, Dan Lively, Mike Aafedt, Mike Forde and Peter Pustorino.  These are all former workers compensation attorneys and/or judges who are hired by the parties to mediate disputes.  Another possibility is to utilize the services of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry or in some cases use sitting work comp judges at the Office of Administrative Hearings in St. Paul.  I have had meditations with all four judges who currently mediate matters at OAH and with most of the mediators at DOLI.  In my experience they all have their place depending up the particular facts or clients.

If you are not represented by an attorney and the insurance company recommends or suggests settlement, I strongly urge you to contact an experienced workers compensation attorney who may recommend mediation as a method to explore resolution of your dispute.  At Atkinson Law Office, P.A. and Minnesota Disability we have a staff and attorneys whose past experience in representing insurance companies is put to use in supporting YOU the injured workers.  Let us show you the secrets the insurance companies won't.  Contact us for a free consultation at 651-332-8792 or visit our main website today!